The story of Marie Antoinette's aloofness from and callousness towards the starving masses of France, just prior to the French Revolution, is well known. Informed that that many were starving for lack of bread she infamously said, "Qu'ils mangent du gateau." That is, "Let them eat cake!"
It was this story that came to my mind when I recently was talking on the phone with the wife of a millionaire (they live in the southwest). She was highlighting how wonderful life has become since the advent of the coronavirus. She mentioned seeing more of her neighbors out for walks, having additional time to work on house projects, and more time to play tennis or lounge around the pool. She said that she had seen a survey in which the vast majority of those from England said they had no desire to return to their former lives. She took this to mean they were enjoying the lockdown and the personal benefits that have come from it.
As she spoke I thought of the email I had just received from a friend in which he expressed his desparate situation. He said he was wondering how he was going to feed his family in the weeks ahead. I then thought of another friend who is now without employment, and still another friend who said that while he had some savings, they can only go on for a few months without an income. (A more recent article suggests that 30% of American households are only one week away from being penniless).
So I expressed to this woman that while things may be fine in the American southwest, it is not that way everywhere. I told her of the burial I handled in Brooklyn, New York just days before and how even the deceased woman's family were not allowed to all come (the governor having limited the size to 10), and that when those who could come were together they could not hug or even touch one another, and all were wearing masks. I told her of my standing in line, wearing a mask, just to get into Home Depot. I told her of the record requests for food being made upon our local food banks and reminded her of the photos seen on television of the long line of cars waiting to get food in Texas.
The coronavirus has, by the wealthy and those in the media, been called "The Great Equalizer" for some of the wealthy and famous have, like the rest of humanity, contracted the disease. But it is not the great equalizer. It is, instead, The Great Mirror, showing to all the world the difference between the haves and the have nots. Did you see in the news that Bill and Melinda Gates (truly good people I believe) just bought a 5,800 sq.ft. beach house near San Diego for $43,000,000 – that's 43 MILLION dollars. They can afford it, but the timing of their purchase stinks in the nostrils of those without bread.
Marie Antoinette was executed on October 16, 1793 by means of the guillotine while the crowd chanted "Avec sa tete." That is, "Off with her head!"