Afternoon sunlight shines through a window into a bedroom; a covid patient sits reading in the sunlight on the bed.

Patient: Well, I finally have my answer. How many years ago did I write that question on Quora asking about why America’s two party system was creating such anger between the two halves of the country. I ask because I believe—who doesn’t—that a house divided does not stand and, well, gosh darn it, I do like America even if I have to leave it every few months and purge my body of the over-processed foods that I inhale while traveling there. To say nothing of the micro-plastics which I’m breathing while on walks up Rocky Mountains. Don’t even get me started on the water and its impurity. But, there is nothing that a little physics can’t correct, so I don’t really mind any of that. What I mind is that there are not common actions between red and blue; there are no purple people, no people who can see the good of both sides and get on with it together. What is the on-with-it-together stuff? I don’t know; I really don’t know. But I know that finally this book—Plato’s Republic—communicates to me why there is no common action between sides of the country. Socrates says clearly that there can be no common action in a country that is suffering from injustice. Seek justice and you will heal and unite the country. I presume that the justice sought would be justice at every level of society: food, products, finances, debt, race, and religion. Surely “forced obsolescence” is an injustice just as over-processed foods and ghettos are unjust.

The covid patient coughs once.

Patient: Oh, and there’s this novel covid virus everyone’s freaking out about, too. Look at me: raging with the virus and coherent reading philosophy on my sickbed. The overreaction of the world’s population will—without a doubt to my mind—create further injustice in the world. What if the vaccination of kids kills some kids? These kids are without threat to the virus, so why give them a vaccination? And, what if some die? How will this vaccination strategy do anything but destroy faith in public institutions and neighborliness?

The covid patient clears his throat.

Patient: I’ve coughed twice today. Twice. How has the world stopped for three years because of this cold? How else can I describe this disease other than a mild cold? I’m reading fucking philosophy while doing it. Is there so much greed in the world? Are the rich so powerful that they can force us all to stop, put us out of business, and channel all money through a handful of tyrannical companies? Who are these rich, these sharks circling society looking for the fresh blood, the raw meat to devour? Is this just a hypothetical “they”; are there really a group of sharks hunting? And they call our society a meritocracy. If it was a meritocracy, those of us whom covid doesn’t touch, we would have merit! We would be free to go where we want: we have the most merit, do we not? No, no, no, that’s not the game. The natural immune system can’t be meritorious because there’s no profit to be made for a large corporation. One can’t make money off of healthy people or natural immunity, so that’s not going work for the New World Order ideas of merit. No, no, no; we need to import the virus from China AND import the Social Credit System from China, too. Merit will correlate to “full vaccination” on your smartphone, wristband, or the bar code embedded in your forehead. The meritorious will be those people who take the pharmaceutical treatments in our new Social Credit System.

The covid patient feels his forehead.

Patient: Well, maybe I am a little feverish, but I’m coherent, I trust. Well, Socrates explains it: injustice. None of my words would even impinge the brain of half of the population; how could my words reach anyone who doesn’t already have my experience of this side of the injustice? This side of merit? There are profits on the table and there are winners and losers; who is going to give up his winnings and say, “Okay, okay, that’s enough; let’s all live in a free and equal society again.” Me! I will say this; I will do this. I will make neighborliness the currency that stands between me and my neighbor; money will have only a secondary or tertiary place in my interactions, which will begin again in three days—I suppose. I guess I should wait three days before I re-enter society having overcome this ridiculous virus. Fucking humans. I fucking hate these humans; wait, wait, no; that’s not neighborly. Take a deep breath. Breathe.

The covid patient breathes deeply, takes up Plato’s Republic, and reads. The end.