Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Four Hundred Ninety One

While the grippe reborn lingers, beaten back by the inoculations but still possessing its deadly powers and waiting only for an opening to return in force, we are faced with new crises. Or the return of old, forgotten ones in greater force. Whatever hope we had of a quiet summer without worry seems to have vanished, as we are reminded every day of all that is wrong with our current world. It is hard not to see it as a broken place.

The heat of several weeks ago sparked innumerable fires across the mountains to the west and smoke now blankets the western dominions. The air coats my mouth and my lungs every time I step outside. I get headaches and my eyes itch. There is no end in sight to the fires, with hot dry weather forecast for weeks to come. The smoke will remain, a constant reminder of the changing climate and its consequences. This summer seems scripted to remind us of all that awaits us. Ruined crops, choking skies and terrible heat that forces us indoors. It is hard not to feel some urgency to do something, yet as soon as the smoke drifts away we will forget about this and return to our more petty squabbles.

It is already happening with the other crisis that has confronted us in these last weeks. A crisis of forgetting, of not seeing, of looking away. Those Who Went Away have always been here, despite our attempts to banish them, to make their culture and very being vanish. They have remained, but it was for us as though they went away, for we chose not see them. We stole their children, took them to schools whose goal was to remake them into us. We succeeded only in unmaking them.

This is the legacy of the Dominions, broken people who we have barely acknowledged, because we knew who was responsible for that breaking and it was too terrible to contemplate. In the last weeks the graves of the children who perished at those schools from neglect have been discovered. Discovered in the same sense that Europeans discovered the Americas. It has always been known there were graves in these place, but the full extent has never been clear. Now we are beginning to get a sense of the scope of that tragedy and the numbers are unimaginable. Two thousand already and hundreds of sites still left to be investigated.

There was an outpouring of grief and consternation when the news of the first graves came out. That continued with the second school and the third. A fourth discovery was just made and the response has been much more muted, hardly a ripple of concern. As always, we have begun to look away, to forget and to not see, because it is too difficult to contemplate what has been done and what needs to be done now to help set things right, though nothing could ever do that. Every nation is built upon a lie, a story we tell ourselves until we believe it to be true. Ours is no different, though we like to pretend that isn’t so.

It is all too easy to despair in the face of these intractable problems, to give up. Yet that is the worst thing we can do. We must face these things and try to do some good, however futile it may seem. That is the only way forward. Where do you begin? With what you can do to make a difference, however small.

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