I am reading ‘The Plague’ by Albert Camus. Lots of people are reading the book. It is hard to find. I found a used copy and dove right in. This is the Vintage International Edition. 1948.
Scary how the book reminds me of where I am living (the United States). This is so even though Camus’ famous book is about one city in North Africa — Oran. But the selfish behavior I have witnessed up close in the U.S. from others, near, and far, is what is striking. Camus, always the one to make a point about human behavior, makes his point early in the novel.
In the book, in the city of Oran, rats began to die everywhere and Dr. Bernard Rieux, a surgeon in the city, takes it quite serious. This was especially so after he “felt something soft under his foot” on the morning of April 16, and soon learned it was a “dead rat in the middle of a landing.” Many rats are soon dying everywhere and whatever it is that is killing them soon is killing humans. No one cared when it was just rats almost like no one seem to care when the disproportionate number of the dead in the U.S. were persons of color — Blacks, and Latinos.
A passage on page 37 is a bit striking at what life is like here in the U.S., more than six months into a manageable public health problem with small, daily sacrifices. No one wants to do it though. Camus writes:
It is all there. All that many of us witness each day still. The unwillingness to wear masks. The rejection of statistical data from scientists. The attack upon public officials who want to help save lives and are trying to save lives. The parties. The crowded bars. The careless young people who likely took it home and made a parent sick. Camus covers it all.
And then, the focus upon oneself and business at all costs, money, fun, freedom as well. This is the U.S. in so many states, and cities, and communities. Worst of all, elected leaders have perpetuated the most insane misinformation regarding the virus. They are responsible for some of the dead.