A couple of months ago, when coronavirus was still a distant (but threatening) thunder in China, I was reading an online physician forum.  I have no intention or desire to reveal names, locations or specialties.  Suffice it to say, these were mature medical professionals.

Physicians have a tendency towards dark humor.  We’re all guilty from time to time.  I won’t throw stones in that glass house. But the short discussion went something like this, regarding the potential impact of coronavirus.

‘There are too many people anyway.’

‘Yeah, Thanos was onto something.’



Thanos was onto something?  Interesting interpretation.

I was surprised by the comments.  It seemed cold to me, especially for physicians. I hate it when successful, educated people with ample resources complain about the crowded, teeming masses.  When they wish there were fewer people impacting the environment and crowding the beautiful places. When they travel the world, use vast amounts of energy and electricity and still inveigh against the hoi polloi.  I hate it because what they really mean is ‘there are too many people except for me and my family and the people that matter to me.’

The Covid-19 pandemic is taking lives. Very real lives.  Lives of mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters. Lives of rich and poor, young and old, American and international.  Lives across faith, race and ethnicity.  Lives of physicians, nurses and others even as it takes the lives of patients.

The good news?  To some, it may be that coronavirus is ‘decreas(ing) the surplus population,’ as dear old Scrooge put it.



The bad news, if you wish for a world purified by death, is that the neither coronavirus nor death care one bit about how important we are, how much we love the environment, our education levels, our use of fossil fuels (or lack thereof), our devotion to sustainability or renewable energy, our wealth or poverty or anything else.

Thanos need not snap is fingers; the virus is doing his wicked work.  Of course, not quite as effectively as plenty of other illnesses which plague the poor and hungry of the world every single year (but leave wealthy first world citizens blissfully ignorant and safe).  Coronavirus is bad but not killing as consistently as war, hunger, natural disasters and other miseries.  But Covid-19 seems to be something that might bring a smile to the face of old Thanos and even the early, unregenerate Ebenezer Scrooge.

On the other hand, it’s possible that this thing which started as a Thanos moment can offer some transformation.  Maybe on the other side, we can see that as populous as the world is, as common and expendable as so many seem, they do not deserve to be part of the ‘thinning of the herd.’

Perhaps after the contagion has passed, those who once casually wished for cataclysm (and who have since looked death in the face) will rise up like Scrooge on Christmas morning and realize it isn’t too late.



Maybe it will become clearer in the bright light of survival that humanity should be our ‘business’ first and foremost.  Humanity, dirty, messy, busy, sick suffering, lonely, broken, wondrous, creative and loving as it is.  And that we can make the world better, and cleaner and healthier and more prosperous without any morose wish for a ‘snap of the fingers’ to clear things up by taking real people away.

There are, and always will be, worshipers of Thanos.  I just hope that he doesn’t snap them away before they see the errors of their beliefs.

And I pray this nightmare ends soon.  If I could snap my fingers….well, you know.







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