In dreams things do and do not happen and they are the same. Recently I dreamt that a high school friend murdered a boy at a party—a high school party where everyone was stoned and drunk. The killing happened right in front of us. The dream shifted: the murder happened in secrecy and no one saw it. The dream made it clear the circumstances were equal. The body was disposed of but the dream didn’t show it. Then the dream played out a variant of “Crime and Punishment” for somehow though the partiers were blameless we were coerced into covering for the murderer whose alibi rested on rococo rhetorical vagaries which the cops couldn’t disprove. And the dream went on, the partiers grew up. All of us were stained with guilt by association for something we either saw or didn’t see. It was an American dream. It was about our nation’s complete disregard for human rights and how we look away while simultaneously knowing and repressing the knowledge that our souls are damaged.
Gandhi wrote: “There is a higher court than courts of justice, and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts.” America has yet to develop an economy of conscience. Ours is an economy all too often built from deferral. We didn’t see the murder. Or we did but we pretended we didn’t.
The talk of sacrificing groups of people to the virus for the sake of the economy is the talk of damaged souls.