They’re back. Truth is, they never left. It’s just their cover that’s been discarded. In the age of gender fluidity they belong to whatever personal pronoun is in vogue. Plagues are NH4NO3 to them – ie, both fertilizer and explosive. Oedipus sought to end a plague which was caused by a curse which was cast by them. His parental difficulties are thus easy to explain. Plagues are the Devil’s spawn.

Here’s a personal experience, both before and after the appearance of a plague. At the height of the Vietnam War, Fort Bliss in El Paso Texas became a basic training center for the expanding US Army. I was at that time the chief medical resident at William Beaumont General Hospital just across the street from the fort. Don’t ask me for whom the fort is named. I don’t even want to contemplate the answer.

The chairman of the department of medicine, the chief of infectious disease, and I visited with the top officers at the inaptly named Bliss to warn them that the influx of recruits from all over the US would surely cause an outbreak of meningococcal disease with its accompanying sepsis and meningitis. This was before the advent of a vaccine against the bacterium. We outlined a procedure to identify cases at the earliest conceivable time in order to reduce morbidity and mortality to the lowest possible level.

One of the colonels we met with said that his father had been a doctor and that he (the father) burned the bedding of any patient who contracted meningitis. We assured the officers that doing so would likely not be of any use. Rather we should set up numerous URI clinics which would screen patients and get those who needed hospitalization across the street as soon as possible.

The recruits arrived, we set up the clinics, and cases of meningococcal disease appeared. A few soldiers died, but most recovered without permanent sequelae. The colonels burned the bedding. The devil made them do it.

Now we have another plague. Plagues are as routine as tooth decay, but surprise us with each new appearance. The colonels, as is their want, are burning the bedding. Unfortunately, this time the sheets are wrapped around the totality of society. Our leaders are destroying us to save us because they made them do so.

Arnold Toynbee observed that civilizations aren’t murdered, rather they commit suicide. Who drives them mad? What is the process that induces self harm in the guise of mercy? It’s the title of this piece.

Only they could make life in Lubbock Texas more desirable than that in New York City or San Francisco, but they’ve done it. The internet which is the pipeline for much that is stupid is also a conduit away from cities that have succumbed to the succubus of enlightened persuasion. Not that there’s anything wrong with a succubus. I’m open to an incubus as an alternative, or even a school bus. A bus is a bus is a bus.

They thrive because the best are outnumbered by the worst, as is true for the brightest and the dullest, and the far sighted and the myopic, and the acute versus the negligible, and those with perfect pitch and the tone deaf. The choir of the dull is never vacant.

It takes special powers to convert science into a vendetta. Consider that we might be better off at this instant if we had no idea what a virus was. Our ability to recognize one, test for it, and then dispute about what to do with the knowledge given us resembles the aftermath of the Tower of Babel. We are running the world as if it were a Ring Cycle consisting solely of its last scene.

So who are ‘they’? They are not supernatural, just the opposite. They are ordinary, but unfocused. If bright, they are never wise. Knowledgeable, but not analytic. Informed, but confused. In a complicated world, better to confess to ignorance and mind your own business than to pretend to the solution of infinity.

Captain of our fairy band,
Helena is here at hand,
And the youth, mistook by me,
Pleading for a lover’s fee.
Shall we their fond pageant see?
Lord, what fools these mortals be!

By my troth, I care not; a man can die but once; we owe God a death. I’ll ne’er bear a base mind: an ’t be my destiny, so; an ’t be not, so. No man’s too good to serve’s prince; and let it go which way it will, he that dies this year is quit for the next.

So put all this in your mask and inhale it. You don’t have to let them control you. Do not worry overly about error. It will find you on its own. Beware of pronouns.