Original Publish Date: November 3, 2020
“When you have a child, the world has a hostage.” -- Ernest Miller Hemingway
The Dark Ages, Parts I and II
Modern historical scholars no longer describe the fifth through fifteenth centuries as the “Dark Ages,” a time previously associated with demographic, cultural and economic deterioration in Western Europe following the decline of the Roman Empire. With the passage of time – years or even decades – comes clarity and an opportunity to gain a better understanding. Perhaps future historians will write with greater conviction about a real “Dark Ages,” the beginning of which occurred sometime during the twentieth century.
The decline of modern civilization did not start with the onset of a contagious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), more commonly known as COVID-19. Instead, the efficacy of this global pandemic more likely resulted from a deterioration in society that began decades before.
Why the Supreme Court Matters
For the United States, historians may someday mark its decline by revisiting landmark decisions crafted by the nation’s highest court, such as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka or Roe v. Wade. Without limiting the importance of these and other opinions coming from 1 First Street NE, Supreme Court intervention became necessary in part when society misplaced its collective moral compass.
The common theme from both decisions should not be limited to notions of liberty and freedom, but rather a nation in such decline that it required nine Justices to decide on its behalf that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, or seven justices to confirm whether a pregnant woman has the right to choose abortion over childbirth. This resonates even greater today as many believe that the U.S. Supreme Court may also be charged with selecting the 46th President of the United States. Future historians, in hindsight, may conclude the United States had plunged deep into a dark ages by the end of the twentieth century when it resorted to murder and violence rather than reconciling relationships between black and white as well as a women’s right to choose.
The Real Tragedy from COVID-19
So vast a chasm these fundamental limitations created, it was only a matter of time before this disease of the mind infected the nation’s most cherished asset, its children. Still with hindsight the nation may eventually recognize it fell even deeper into its abyss with the onset of COVID-19, especially when the self-proclaimed global superpower has totally failed in its attempt to contain the pandemic. More important, not only is there no end in sight for COVID-19, the stress and strain the pandemic has placed on health care institutions in all 50 states is equally matched by the damage incurred by all residents therein.
What may not have been reconciled, however, is precisely how children have fared with COVID-10. With such an astonishingly low mortality rate in the younger population from COVID-19, the rest of the nation had free reign to act with unmitigated selfishness, ignorance and intolerance. Such reckless abandon could only go viral once the children were safe at home, even if modern medicine does not fully understand why COVID-19 bypassed the nation’s Zoom generation.
The legacy of COVID-19 resembles an ancient Greek drama where only the audience in the future recognizes today’s tragic irony, similar to the fate of Oedipus in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex when the protagonist unwittingly murders his father, thereby fulfilling the very destiny he pledged to avoid. COVID-19 may spare children from respiratory illness, hospitalization and intubation, but this global pandemic is keenly positioned to cause far greater harm to children in the future than any other virus throughout history. Once the incubation period passes and the virus mutates into the minds of children, the U.S. health care system totally lacks a sufficient infrastructure to accommodate such a surge.
Today’s Epic Failures
As the adult nation wages war over social distancing, stay-at-home orders and the infamous “mask”, the next generation makes its descent into the dark ages. Those we have vowed to protect we now deprive of an education, healthy social development, and the very freedom and liberty the nation historically fought so hard to obtain. Society may not be placing its children in immediate jeopardy from COVID-19 today, but COVID-19 patiently waits to infect these same children for decades to come.
U.S. history includes an abundance of pyrrhic victories. In parts of the nation, the U.S. Supreme Court failed to advance civil rights, reaching levels of success similar to the Emancipation Proclamation. Likewise, the legacy of Roe v. Wade has unwittingly compromised preventative health care for approximately 51% of the nation’s population, a fundamental tenet in the 2010 Affordable Care Act. In this tragic irony, COVID-19 may eventually transition the nation’s children from Zoom School to Rorschach and Prozac. Fortunately, if history does repeat itself, sometime in the next 1,000 years we may stumble upon another Age of Enlightenment.
Until then, the nation must accept the consequences of its actions. Partisan politics can cast blame for those who lost their lives to COVID-19 between 2020 and 2021, but society as a whole will be held accountable for the fate of a generation left behind to fend for itself in the dark ages.
Craig Garner is the founder of Garner Health Law Corporation, as well as a healthcare consultant specializing in issues pertaining to modern American healthcare. Craig is also an adjunct professor of law at Pepperdine University School of Law. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.