War of the World, Agent Smith edition

Hello, self-quarantined, sheltering-in-place, social distancing, diligent hand washing, not face touching, responsible practitioners/critical thinkers in what by now is clearly a deep dive into an a potentially apocalyptic pandemic. Being smart about this war against an invisible but lethal enemy is the only way Covid-19 will be stopped. Being stupid about it will increase the odds against winning, and by winning I mean being able to save humanity from whatever brought this calamity upon one and all, anywhere and everywhere.

Certainly, I am stating the obvious here, right? Who doesn’t already understand this? Well, obviously it is not obvious to a lot of people. And the people I am alluding to are swathes of science-deniers, or selfishly reckless individuals who still meet up in groups or who individually hoard sanitizers, face masks, and most all of toilet paper. Toilet paper! Okay, you might get diarrhea if you’re infected. But one person buying three packs of 32 rolls? And likely NOT suffering such a symptom as they stack their shopping cart full of Charmin. What a bunch of assholes, obviously. But–most of all–certain people who have a public presence via media outlets. Here in the U.S of A., we have an administration that is led by, as David Brooks, a bonafide media conservative put it, a “sociopath”. And this sociopath has made it abundantly clear that saving our economy, i.e. Wall Street, is more important than anything else. You may have heard of medical staff all over the country crying out for more vital supplies. This need has been established weeks and weeks ago, but only a trickle of new resources have become available. This sociopath could invoke the War Powers Act to require U.S. manufacturing companies to quit making one widget or another and make those medical supplies instead. But he refuses to use that Act. He prefers not to be a burden to business, apparently. Priorities.

For all I know, at the very moment I write this post, some further lunacy has been spoken by Sociopath Man. Yesterday he touted the idea of “reopening America” by Easter Sunday. You know, to help–not the doctors, nurses, first responders and others on the front lines of this life or death battle–but, you know, to help get the economy percolating again. This psychobabble was uttered at virtually the same time the World Health Organization postulated the U.S could soon become the very epicenter of this viral assault. Who do you want to believe? Sociopath Man or the World Health Organization?

I am of a mind that Sociopath Man will have to be reigned in by the scientific community, or we, here in the U.S. will suffer for it. More than we already are suffering from it. Sure, his fellow sociopathic true believers trust him. They are zombies, but unlike those in what was once just a science fiction apocalyptic narrative. This story is all too real. Sociopath Man’s zombies are very real. They want to eat brains alright. Brains that, as alluded to above, belong to those smart/critical thinking, regimen respecting troopers aligned to defeat our common enemy, Covid-19. Sociopath zombies indeed want to eat that type of brain, and they will if we let them. Then there are no brains left. Sociopath Man is a virus unto himself. His spores are his followers. When they speak, it is a the equivalent of an coronavirus infectee sneezing in your face. Duck and cover.

No one can yet see how this all ends. It’s a war, for sure. But in this part of world and others, there’s a secondary war of fact vs fiction. Black magical thinking vs sound reasoning. To win both wars is quite a task, but it can be done. If not then whom to blame? I think I know the answer to that one…

…and it was provided in one particular sequence of the 1999 seminal science fiction film The Matrix. In this sequence, Morpheus has been captured and is being tortured by three Agents, sentient computer programs that protect the Matrix from its human enemies. Morpheus is human but has entered the matrix as part of a resistance that strives to save humanity from the machines, which are now harvesting humans to use them as energy sources- batteries, if you will, that aid in the matrix’s operation. Agent Smith is desperate to break into Morpheus’ mind, to get the information that will finish off any human threat to the machines. As agent Smith becomes more impatient with Morpheus, he (it) decides to clearly explain his antipathy toward the human race that created the matrix in the first place. Smith, visibly displaying disgust with his assignment to crack Morpheus so he/it can exist without threat from him or leftover resistant humans, alludes to the matrix failing to ever understand how the human race functions, saying that although the computers tried to make a virtual world for those humans serving as unwitting servants to the matrix it created, nothing ever seemed to satisfy them. Human behavior is a puzzle that the matrix cannot solve. Smith asserts that all humans ever seem to do, is populate one place, destroying it in the process, before moving to another place and destroying it as well, time and time again. Rinse and repeat, in so many words. As Morpheus slumps, bound to a chair, hanging on desperately so as not to let them break his will–hack his brain, as it were–Smith then tells Morhueus there is another organism that has the same behavioral characteristics of the human race, that being a virus.

Yes, Agent Smith. You hit the nail right on the head! The human race is one nasty, greedy, genocidal, power thirsty lot. The human virus. Hell, the 20th century alone gave us two world wars, plus a handful of ridiculous, life-wasting ideological proxy wars. We slaughter one another, writ large or small. Before you accuse me of cherry picking humankind’s characteristics, just take a close look at the world, especially before this pandemic. Fascism on the rise. Racism. Sexism. Xenophobia. Class warfare. Plutocrats. Oligarchs. Totalitarians. Then study history farther and farther back. Rinse and repeat. Smith, my man–uh–my sentient computer program. You rule!

But we must dethrone agent Smith. Now let’s go and win this war! Both of them! Stay inside and keep washing those hands. Avoid those Sociopath Man zombies. Squirt disinfectant into their eyes. We can do it.

Or maybe this is our Matrix. If so, if some guy who goes by the name of Morpheus rescues you from your virtual world of placid, quotidian routine, when he offers a choice of a red or blue pill, TAKE THE BLUE ONE.

About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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