Ruminations on ‘The Ides of March’

At school, despite the fact that I often failed the exams, I loved learning Latin. A history buff even then, I delighted in Roman history which I was luckily quite good at and made up for in grades. I love the Ides of March. The Ides is the 15th of March, May, July and October in the Roman calendar – for the other months it was actually the 13th of the month. It’s an interesting date because it is know as the day Caesar was murdered in the Roman Senate. Then, as now, March is a month of festivals in Rome – during the Imperial period Rome hosted religious festivals during March.

In terms of the Ides of March this year, we have had to live through serious bush fires that were followed by floods and now we have the spread of Covid-19. The news this weekend has been full of politicians et al with travel restrictions and health warnings.

Anyone who has had a Christian upbrining will recognise the portents of the biblical apocalypse. You could be forgiven for looking at things currently happening in a very dark and pessimistic way. Yet, over the past 100 years the human race has survived many nasty times periods – two world wars, flu pandemics, the cold war (nuclear destruction) ebola virus, SARs etc. etc. So I’m convinced that we are not about to go up in flames as a race or even as a planet – at least nor for a while yet. Unless of course there is a comet I’m not aware of but let’s not buy trouble.

Still, here we are at the Ides of March and we have all these things that are roiling around making people afraid and stressed. In an effort to learn as much as I can I look to scientific research of which there is much creditable information available on the internet. What I have found are many calm voices out there who say that Covid-19 is a virus that will likely affect many of us. But unless we have immune issues, lung or heart problems, especially if we are elderly with those issues, we will likely survive it.

It makes me wonder about the factor that the media play in the worry and panic Covid-19 has engendered. The whole toilet paper debacle in Australia for example. The media have a social contract to provide information to the public. But I worry about the veracity of information provided by much of the world media. The 24 hour news cycle needs constant hype to keep it going and what better to work into a frenzy than a new and infectious virus.

I’m not saying that we should sit back and do nothing. Follow the advice and wash hands, sneeze and cough responsibly and isolate if necessary. However, it seems many have the virus with few or very mild symptoms – and it’s becoming clear that children between 0-9 may not be badly affected – there seems to have been no recorded deaths from the virus in that age group. And for those who are diagnosed (i.e. tested) there are many out here that have it but don’t know and will not know because symptoms can be quite mild. They are only different to the flu or common cold in that they start with a sore throat and a cough and fever (most often).

I do find the whole news hype not only annoying but misleading. Many, but not all, of the newspapers and television news seem to provide snippets with dire warnings that do nothing to provide the truth. They focus on the places where things seems to be worse without putting it into context of population profiles. They extrapolate this to put out the worst possible scenario.

So, like I suspect many people, I sit at my computer and find reputable science articles that provide a calm and reassuring explanation. Yes, I might get Covid-19 and I may be unwell. Yes, there are currently no vaccine nor drugs (anti-virals or otherwise) to treat it. But the virus has been sequenced (in Australia first), and organisations both academic/research and private are working toward finding a treatment.

It will not be the end of the world. We will be sad if we are one of the few who are badly affected by this virus, or we have a relative or friend who is. But the annual flu round is also coming and is hayfever and the common cold. And the last of these has no treatment either.

So for this Ides of March, I choose to be calm, take useful precautions and thank my lucky stars I’m living in 2020 and not 100BCE where there were no treatments for the horrible plagues that afflicted the world – ones much, much worse than Covid-19.

As a side note, last Friday was the 13th of March – what we think of as a Black Friday these days. Now I’m not really superstitious but I often remark that I really must be a witch because I always seem to have good luck on any Friday 13th. I have no problem when black cats cross my path either (chuckley quietly). This Friday was no exception. Several pieces of good new from insurance companies and repairs on our scorched house made it a great day.

So may calm and peace reward you with a strong immunce system.

When Writers Get Together

Like many writers/authors, I am a member of a writing group – the Eurobodalla Fellowship of Australian Writers. There are two groups; one meets during the day and the other at night. The two groups have similar ideals but work toward them in different ways.

Our evening group is made up of a different demographic due to the fact that people who work are able to come. We have teachers, a doctor, a psychologist, a psychiatric nurse, a retired IT manager and trance medium/health advocate and property owners. It makes for very interesting discussions.

Our meeting last night started out as any other, with critiques of short stories or chapters of books that were sent to participants a fortnight before the meeting. But instead of the agenda topics that were to be discussed after, and, as many local groups have found, the bushfires became a topic because one story focussed on survival when faced with difficult health issues.

Over the course of the hour and a half that followed, we heard stories from parents with children watching as the fires decended while they stood helpless on a beach, listened to those with damage to property and those with asthma who spent weeks simply trying to breath. Others who found that not having any way out was scary, tales from those with family and close friends working on the firefront and the feelings of survivors guilt.

Yet as the evening wore on, funny stories began to emerge and we let go of the sadness and giggled and laughed. It was very healthy really.

As a result the group decided to put together a novella with bushfire tales – ones with optimistic outlooks despite the fear and destruction. Bushfires and Vegemite Sandwiches will come together over the next few months under the Secret Society of Words Publishing banner. It is intended to be both cathartic and a record of experiences during the “lost summer.”

Today it is raining – good solid rain. As the picture above shows, two moths after the devastation, at least the bush is beginning to come back. Birds are squablling over territory and some bugs are around. But it will take a long time for the wildlife to reestablish. The rain and regrowth will help.

Bushfire Grief

This morning I’m going to join members of Extinction Rebellion and the Climate Choir at Rosedale for a Grief Ceremony. This is where so many homes were lost. We will sing and respectfully work together to accept our grief and the sadness caused by these horrible fires.

Personally, there is a deep anger at governments in our country who ignored warnings that began as early as the 1970’s and were strongly repeated in the 1990’s and again early this century. They are still sticking their heads in the proverbial sand.

But one can’t live with anger without it destroying. So I am going to this Grief Ceremony. And I will continue to agitate locally and, where possible in capital centres, for action.

I began working for the environment in the early 1990’s when I became aware of the problem. It has been an up and down journey with some political parties making a good go at trying to achieve carbon reduction but mostly, with conservative governments backing big business and ignoring it.

So I must let the anger go. I must focus on what I can do. I have grandchildren who will look back and blame us for sitting on our hands and letting this happen. I don’t want to be part of the problem but part of the solution.

Welcome

Welcome to my website and blog. Although I’m not a daily blogger I have a lot of interests beside my writing. For example, I’m very interested in getting governments at all levels to declare a climate emergency.

The past three months have been an expected wake up call for what is happening with our climate. Personally affected by the bushfires, with acquaintances who have lost everything, and despite the fact that I’ve been trying to fight for the environment since the early 1990’s, we find we have to fight to get anything done.

While this is very important on a national and global scale, for me personally it is getting back to normal so I can focus on my writing again. As such, with the insurance companies having come to the party, thank goodness, I have edited my manuscript and am looking for an agent. I understand that this is going to be difficult but, like all writers, I live in hope and learn from rejection.

I hope that you will come and join me here, make comments and just hang out.

Update: April 2020. I wrote this prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Normal is still not happening and won’t for a while. It seems the enviroment, our world, is having a say about the way we are treating it – we need to listen. There are many possibilities coming from the state of this world at the moment – both in health, politically and environmentally. Let’s all hope we, individuals and governments, can learn the lesson.