Definition of serial killer – someone who murders more than three victims one at a time in a relatively short interval. Synonyms: serial murderer. Related Words. liquidator, manslayer, murderer, serial murderer, spree killer. (www.webster-dictionary.org › definition › serial killer)
I have always been particularly fascinated by the phrase, ‘Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes.’ On my continent, at least, most folks in this day and age are so removed from death that they may live many decades without ever seeing a person die. The majority of us have never seen a war that wasn’t on a video screen or perhaps comfortably whitewashed on the national news. But there was a time, in our not-so-distant past, when weapons of war were not launched from the vantage point of a computer screen, many miles away like they are today. There was a time when soldiers actually saw the life go out of the person they were killing; when they actually looked into the whites of their eyes before they fired their weapon.
This is an image that the majority of us cannot even bear to imagine. I have heard, though, that serial killers like to see death up close and personal; that they like to see that light leave a victim’s face.
It occurred to me recently that this pandemic has changed all that. It has borne hordes of inadvertent serial killers with whom you may be on a first-name basis; with whom you may even be related. I can guarantee that you could easily name thirty of these new serial killers without batting an eye.
There is the granddaughter who refuses to abide by the government warning to stay at home because she feels it’s more important for her cherished Grammy to have her daily company during a time when everyone else is socially isolating. Yes, she’s been informed that some people carry the virus but are asymptomatic. But, well, she feels just fine, so she’s decided that the rules that apply to the rest of the world just don’t apply to her.
There are the university students who recently descended by the thousands upon tropical beaches because, let’s face it, being young and strong, Covid 19 would barely register as a blip on their radars if they did get it, and hey, isn’t Spring Break a rite of passage? I guess we should mention the participation of community leaders who just didn’t think it would be good for business if they closed down those beaches and all those nearby hotels and restaurants. When the students, tanned and hungover, all trooped happily back home across the far corners of an entire continent, it is virtually a guarantee that untold numbers brought death back with them without so much as batting an eye (and all – for a large majority of them – with Mommy and Daddy’s permission and on Mommy and Daddy’s dime).
Perhaps I should mention the political and the church leaders (thankfully not in my own country) who have dithered and lied and pontificated and then told everyone in their entire country to ‘go ahead and attend church – God will protect you’. To be fair to the political leaders, I suppose dead citizens do cost less than the live ones, but how do all those church leaders and citizens stubbornly justify listening to such drivel when the science is widely available and undeniable?
There were the thousands upon thousands of travellers who returned from countries where the virus was far more widespread than in their own country and, upon landing on home soil, drove directly to the supermarket in order to stock up before their – first suggested and eventually mandatory – 14-day quarantine.
And of course, there were the travellers who were already sick, but who lied when questioned and boarded a plane anyway, along with hundreds of their fellow country men and women. I heard that the woman who coughed on one flight for nine hours straight was particularly appreciated by her fellow passengers.
Don’t get me wrong: I understand the deep need to return home in times of crisis; I understand the financial uncertainty; I understand how much you can miss friends and family; I understand the ache of not being able to see a dear and frail loved one, especially when they have dementia and really do not understand why you have stopped coming to visit; I understand that awful sensation of feeling like a prisoner in your own home; I understand the need for a well-stocked larder. As a Canadian, I really understand the need for a bit of sun at this time of the year when winter has begun to feel interminable and you are absolutely sick to death of snow.
The thing is, my needs are not unique. At this particular point in time, every person on planet Earth is in the same collective boat. This virus spreads quickly. Not one human being on this planet is immune. And it is a cruel and unfathomable fact that some folks are barely affected by Covid 19 whereas for others, it is a death sentence.
Upon reflection, I think that’s what makes this virus so different than anything this generation has ever experienced. Just like modern weapons of mass destruction, the people spreading this virus will never know the havoc they wreaked. They will never get to see the whites of their victims’ eyes.
Because the people who die of this virus die quarantined, and utterly alone.
All we have to do to stop the killing is to stay at home. But for this new brand of serial killer? Frankly my dear, I just don’t think they give a damn.
Patti Moore Wilson/© wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com