An Open Letter To The World Health Organization From The Greek Alphabet

Dear WHO, 

First off, we want to acknowledge that you’ve done a great job during a difficult time and if it were up to us, we’d give you an Alpha plus on performance. 

But, collectively, we’ve got an issue and I think you already know where we’re headed. Frankly, we feel maligned by the way we’ve been treated as nothing but shorthand for a bunch of nasty viruses. You see, we are so much more than that. 

We’ve been around since around 800 B.C.E. and pride ourselves as being the earliest known alphabetic script to have distinct letters for vowels as well as consonants. And it’s been our pleasure being the useful in mathematics. Where would brainy folks be without epsilon (ε) for an arbitrarily small positive number and lower-case pi (π) for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter? We positively loved it when Johannes Bayer used us to name stars in their order of brightness. In that setting we really shined. 

But then Covid hit and you took it upon yourself to start using us in a way that we frankly feel is not only demeaning, but kind of totally confusing and messed up. Delta (always a sensitive soul) was quite hurt. She felt like there were so many other ways to go with this. “Why not choose flowers, fruits, or colors to scare the shit out of people,” she said. “It’s enough that you love to use the ‘it’s all Greek to me’ cliché.” We totally get how it’s an asshole move to use the names of countries, but with a little bit of effort you could have scraped up something better. You’ve got Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Georgian and Phoenician alphabets to malign. Why dump on us? 

We considered suing for slander, but Nu nixed that idea. Easy for him since he was skipped over because, according to you guys, it would have been “confusing.” Ditto Xi. But for the rest of us, it’s been nothing short of one low-self-esteem day after another. Of course, our little renegade Iota can’t wait to see if you’ll select her for the next variant. She’s been dying to use her favorite phrase “I don’t give one Iota.”  

And hey, what’s wrong with the English alphabet a la “Hepatitis A, B and C” or just plain old Aramaic numbers like HPV 16? 

And what’s with all this skipping letters? Omicron is number 15 in the alphabet and was really hoping things would be shaping up by the time you got to him, but here we are.   

In conclusion, please reconsider. And remember, once you hit Omega, we’re out of here. 

Α α, Β β, Γ γ, Δ δ, Ε ε, Ζ ζ, Η η, Θ θ, Ι ι, Κ κ, Λ λ, Μ μ, Ν ν, Ξ ξ, Ο ο, Π π, Ρ ρ, Σ σ/ς, Τ τ, Υ υ, Φ φ, Χ χ, Ψ ψ, and Ω ω. 

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