How Easily We Forget

Like many other Americans, I sat transfixed, terrified and enraged at seeing the Capitol Building in Washington assailed by mindless, violent thugs in their narrow, self-righteous attempt at overthrowing a government that over the past four years has increasingly become the personal property of a man whose insidious, though accurate, instincts have attracted and controlled armies of dissatisfied citizens who live in terror that our nation might actually belong to all its citizens, regardless of race or color. The fear that something might be stolen from them has grown almost to the point of civil war, even though these people and the President himself would furiously deny that their hateful rhetoric is in any way racist.

I think of Italy and Germany of the 1930’s under Mussolini and Hitler whose bigotry was the basis of fear and unrest, the flames of which were fanned by those leaders to promote suspicion, terror and, finally, shameless mass murder on an unfathomable scale, which many of the criminals from last week’s embarrassing drama in the USA would be too ashamed actually to admit really even occurred. Such denial, self-righteous egomania, and aggrandizement made it easier to flout law and order for their own megalomania, which had been bubbling under the surface for years until what they deemed a “strong leader” fomented unrest through his army of psychotic marionettes, controlled like the pawns on a chessboard.

Blind mob rage created the terror and destruction they hoped for, leaving an ugly scar on the democratic process at which they scoffed for their own egomaniacal purposes…naïve gullible armies of them (like ants), seeming to believe absolutely anything the President said or even implied, as though carrying the American flag was what made them patriots. History repeats itself, sometimes very painfully for those who either forget it or want to use it for their own selfish purposes. So it goes, sadly this time with an army of spineless, gutless Republican lawmakers, cowering in their little comfort zones of what they deem their power and money. History will not look any more kindly upon them than it will upon the Brown Shirts and Black Shirts of eighty year ago in Europe. My hope now is that history books will not leave out the greed and utter treason of those who have shamed themselves over the past weeks (four years) and rendered our country a nation of fear, greed, suspicion, bigotry and utter shame on the world stage.  JB

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2020….Entombment with Netflix and HBO

To say that I’m relieved that 2020 is over would be a vast understatement, as I’m sure it would be for most of the people I know. Phone chats and computer communications aside, it was a lonely, painfully isolated year during which even brief chats with neighbors over fences and hedges were social events of convivial importance. My face-to-face communications were few, making even Silas Marner look like a sparkling socialite by camparison. It’s sad to me that one of my most convivial experiences last fall was a visit to Walgreens for my flu shot, after which the nurse and I chatted happily for almost twenty minutes, laughing as though we had just polished off a bottle of Champagne.

When I took the dog to the vet for his booster shots or when I went to my doctor for a check-up, wearing a mask made me feel like a bandit, but my chronic bronchitis sadly made it necessary to take every precaution, as I am now 75 years old and could be snuffed out like a candle if I caught the Covid virus, and there was also the discomfort others might feel had I not bothered with a mask anywhere in pubic. The political ramifications were silly but real from time to time. The look of “Are you one of THEM?” became somewhat laughable on one hand but sad on the other.

In any case, I know that the calendar changing from 2020 t0 2021 is mostly symbolic and doesn’t mean that we’re out of the hole yet, despite the vaccines, which seem to be experiencing rather a slow start anyway. Being overly confident is still dangerous for many of us. Bravado means nothing but a vain pose, particularly with the new strain of the virus, which is no more lethal but is much more easily transmitted.

Regardless, I see light at the end of the tunnel, though I can’t yet tell how long we’ll be winding our way through that tunnel to experience the fullness of that light. Thank goodness for books, crossword puzzles, DVD’s, Netflix and HBO. They’ve spoiled me through distraction and escape when I needed them. The news about the vaccines was almost enough to make me try a cartwheel in my front yard, but being hospitalized for hurting myself that way seemed too embarrassing a prospect, so I went back into the house. When the Covid nightmare ends or is officially under control, I want to party in the streets with family, friends and neighbors again. I’ll bring the wine!  JB

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A Crack in the Mirror

Every once in a while I suppose just about everybody needs to vent his or her frustration and dismay by kicking a chair leg, throwing a rock into a pond, or screaming into a pillow. Some folks even get drunk. So many on Facebook have been doing just those kinds of things regarding politics lately, mostly those whose lives seem tied up in (by) our current president, who is still trying to convince us that meanness of spirit along with cheating are strengths that must be honored instead of dismissed. Everyone else is a “loser.” My release of pent up ire or disappointment is generally letting it bleed all over typing paper in a storm of words this afternoon that need not worry about stepping on anyone’s toes, mostly because the words don’t fret about anyone who stepped on mine, politically, emotionally, socially, or personally during the past four years.

I’m dismayed, (shocked) by and ashamed of the clueless, misinformed, narrow-minded posts (“thoughts”) concerning the recent national election. Facebook acquaintances, and even a couple of friends and relatives have managed to leave me in a state of shock at how apparently gullible and self-righteous people can be, people who don’t even have horns, fangs, or poison arrows.

I’m really talking here about people who are far enough to the right to make William F. Buckley, Jr. look like a screaming liberal. They usually see their own personal views as heroic in their amazing veneration of a president they worship blindly, believing somehow that wisdom pours from his lips like a fifth Gospel, instead of the greedy, narrow, mean, vengeful, lunacy it really is. I will never comprehend being dazzled (hoodwinked) by him, though he certainly knows the right buttons to push in order to activate floods of rage and indignation in his wide-eyed, adoring hand-puppets.

Isn’t it time to admit that we need to reunite our country, leave the dirt and slime behind us and stop making cruel, narrow rhetoric sound like some elixir that will save us from destruction? When and how did we lose our way? Our current president has the same effect on his star-struck base that Benito Mussolini had on too many Italians of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Our nation doesn’t have to be ugly, smug, and cruel to be respected on the world stage. News flash: Neither do people.

Almost all the criticism I’ve seen on Facebook against “the liberal left” has been manufactured (by God knows whom), stuff that is cunningly designed to push the right (far right) buttons to raise the adrenalin of self-righteous folks who enjoy having targets (scape goats) for their being pissed off at the world in general… not from respected, impartial sources, but from those that resemble the worst excesses of tabloid trash, like The National Enquirer.

Isn’t it time to stop being poor losers and begin showing some level of respect for the nation itself and its history and laws, instead of manufacturing bloodcurdling scenarios in a crybaby way, denying truth and the history of our Constitution and every other law that has kept us as ONE nation? It’s almost 2021, NOT 1862. We are not, or should not be, at war with one another, the flames being fanned by voices from sources I suspect aren’t even American ones. Our laws and history are more important than the whims and ego of a crybaby golden calf that has become a thing of blind worship rather than the dangerous, egomaniacal distraction he really is. He and God are lightyears apart, and no amount of wishful thinking is going to change or disguise that ugly fact.

Fox News and other twisted, adrenalin-raising sources of heavily tweaked information, continue to intoxicate the unwary, even though the wool has not yet been pulled over everyone’s eyes. Senators on the far right whose backbones have been lost or hidden during this administration, oblivious to the needs of our country, and those who have followed their lead, will be judged much more harshly by history than they have yet been able to imagine. The cult they have protected and nurtured over the past four years will be seen in a much harsher light as time passes. Money and power may look quite different in retrospect. It’s not going to be pretty.    JB

“Never be so focused on what you’re looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find.” Ann Patchett

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Where Two Roads Diverge (with apologies to Robert Frost)

Isolation over the past eight months has given me a new perspective, particularly about The United States, where I was born, raised, educated, and where I have lived since I was born in 1946. As a senior citizen, I remember the era of Joseph McCarthy in the 1950’s, the fear, division, and rancor he generated in narrowing the definition of being an American. He honed it down to a snide view, tiny enough to fit on the head of a pin. Though young and not yet aware of the wider perspective that would come from experience and education, I was conscious of a fear in watching beloved entertainers being grilled mercilessly about the faintest possibility that they could be Communists. The phony heroism of McCarthy and the narrow-minded bigots who were his cronies fanned the flames of hate, often in the name of religion. Lives were destroyed. Truth didn’t really matter. It was merely a stage production to make McCarthy appear to be some kind of protector or savior.

Over the past four years, a similar, simplistic patriotism that excludes rather than includes, has turned fear mongering and suspicion into art forms that make race demonstrations and political protests of the 1960’s look like mere football skirmishes. Like Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin, our leader is gifted in his astounding ability to find and stoke terror about imagined foes, funneling the blame for social ills down to stereotypes of race and political party. Mistrust is intensified by biased accusation and malevolently blurred fault. That adrenalin rush for many is simply too irresistible and gives the gullible a feeling of satisfaction at finding easy scapegoats.

The peace and prosperity we might now have, had the pandemic been taken more seriously by our egomaniacal braggart of a leader, who is in everlasting denial about any responsibility he might have for anything, has little chance in a society of bored deniers of science and facts (a view that they emulate from its source in Washington). Self-righteous indignation has replaced civilized discussion, respect for real knowledge and social healing. Eloquence, compassion, decency, and goodwill have been replaced by screaming insults, blame, and fear that we may never again find the American dream, because “the other side” is trying to snatch it away and replace it with some apocalyptic nightmare. I suppose the two opposing fears, based upon the extremely oversimplified views of the two political sides are socialism versus totalitarianism (dictatorship, which we already seem to have). Few seem even remotely interested in any middle ground, but such compromise may prove the only way we can, as a nation, survive. Either way, the world is watching.   JB

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A Monumental Division

The phrase “one nation under God” has lost most of its former meaning and power over the past four years. Even the name The United States of America can now seem only a memory that sticks in one’s throat. The terms “conservative” and “liberal” have now also become oversimplified and almost airtight stereotypes that can automatically summon unspeakable horrors (real or imagined) on both sides of our social and political landscape. Racism, inequality, and ill-feeling are rampantly triggered by our haughty assumptions of right and wrong being as simple to identify and judge as black and white.

For example, even wearing or not wearing a mask in public places has become a label for being a Republican or Democrat. Flouting science and facts has become, on one side, an act of heroism or bravery instead of the thoughtless and ignorant gesture it really is. Respect for others has become less important than appearing to be heroic. The word “fact” has been abused by our nation’s leader by his using the adjective “fake” whenever he feels cornered by actual truth. His messages are convoluted to the point of absurdity, but his followers still worship him without question or interest in veracity on any level. Perhaps they’re too embarrassed to admit their initial adoration for a man who makes Benito Mussolini look like Mr. Rogers. Braggadocio is much more fun than boring common sense. Phony heroism and modest acceptance of facts have locked horns on the world stage, where any attempts to define or face facts is met with a resentment of tarnishing the imagined luster of the current administration and its blithe disciples. “I have my rights” has become something our forefathers might not even recognize in terms of its descent into egomania over the past four years.

Boredom for some is more and more opening doors to reckless behavior on a national scale.  On a recent evening newscast one woman screamed at the idea of having to wear a mask in public. “I don’t have to wear a mask. I have the right to die if I want to.” Of course, she forgot that perhaps she didn’t have the right to kill others by exposing them to the microbes she might be carting round. Her self-righteous view of “freedom” during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic might also have defied the quarantine laws. During World War II, she would not have honored the laws governing black-outs during bombing raids, the result of which no one knew from day to day. During the 1960’s she would have ignored the new laws regarding seatbelts for herself and her children. In those instances, the scream of “I have my rights!” rings hollow in the face of public safety and shared responsibility.

It’s almost too easy to imagine outside forces from foreign governments fanning the flames of our national division. Destroying ourselves would most certainly save Russia, North Korea, China, Iran and other hostile nations the trouble of doing it themselves. Their input into our politics now is, I suspect, more powerful than we can yet imagine. The Dems and GOP, by and large, have become two separate and mutually hostile countries, digging through their daily battles the trenches between what we used to be as a nation and what we’re becoming. The adrenalin rush of snide, selfish, one-upmanship on both sides has given us an almost video game mentality, where we don’t share the benefits of cooperation, but rather feel the need to score points that make the struggle between Generals Grant and Lee look like a children’s puppet show.

It seems unlikely that the nation will wake up any time soon, coming together with shared values that honor what we perhaps once were or thought we could become. It may yet become the most methodical and diabolical self-destruction since ancient Rome.  JB

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A Steep, Downward Slope

President Trump, over the past six months, has been almost literally painting a huge smile face over the pandemic and riots, editing out the horror of them with his self-image of a supposed savior at every turn, while others in power wink at his deceptions in order to maintain the control and privilege that they have already clawed out of the nation’s very bone marrow. The President’s method is to brag about his mythical effectiveness as a leader and to deny any blame for anything at any time. His divisive swagger is sadly invisible to a base that worships him as their only hope in destroying a mythical liberal army who can be accused of any national “evil” of the moment.

Loud banter is the President’s weapon of choice. Compassion, foresight, planning to help the masses are not parts of this absolute monarch’s method. Bluster and noise of accusation in blaming others are the distractions that seem to fool so many into believing that this is what leadership really is. Boasting and yelling seem to work best for the current president, which is perhaps why we hear him speaking almost exclusively outside, where there are other noises like traffic, so he can scream his messages. So much more impressive to his flock as a deception of power.

All this brings to mind the methods and styles of past world leaders of the 1920’s and 1930’s…Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, strutting majestically upon the stage-set of their own design so that the audience doesn’t see what’s really there until it’s too late. This mass hypnosis has its powerful effect, because the real values the president espouses were bubbling under the surface before he was even elected. Racism, resentment against real national equality for all citizens are strange to some whose sense of privilege has been threatened by laws passed under President Obama that were just too inclusive to keep those who believed themselves to be the top layer comfortable. It reminds me of the quotation, “Equal right for others doesn’t mean fewer rights for you. It’s not pie.”

But the views on our TV screens of cities on fire set by anarchists have created war zones that seem to be getting more violent as our leader fans the flames yet further with more threats and insults instead of discussion for real change. The original purpose of discussing real equality has shifted to a national confusion that fails to separate the criminal element of looters and arsonists from the majority who have legitimate needs and complaints that are being side-tracked by the hype of suspicion and accusation. Where this will end is anyone’s guess, but change is essential for us as a nation to move on as a more inclusive and compassionate country with shared hopes instead of rancor and division. The Civil War of the 1860’s never really ended. We’re still fighting on the world stage, where other nations like China and Russia are biding their time while smiling at the hope that we destroy ourselves and save them the trouble.  JB

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A Sharp Turn in the Road

Though I’m on FaceBook and enjoy seeing news and humor from friends and former students, there are changes I’ve been observing over the past few months that are draping an ugly shroud over that social experience.

I thought that, especially during the Covid-19 Pandemic, we might all be able to lift up one another in supportive and sympathetic ways as a nation. My miscalculation in that regard has been nothing less than cosmic. The increasing rancor and division in our nation, often based upon blind party loyalty, social class, skin color, misguided and twisted religious fervor, and utter paranoia, have turned the country upside down in a vortex of suspicion. I suspect that all these reasons have been bubbling like molten lava beneath the surface of whatever social equanimity we at least thought we had before.

Composure, discussion (not wrangling), and actual reasoning seem now to be on hiatus in favor of passionate denunciation of one group or political party by another in the most insultingly simple ways. Both sides are guilty of this, but the problem is that the two sides rarely if ever anymore merge for the good of the nation, where there is terrible need amid the rage of name-calling and constant accusation hurled hourly by one party at the other…in both directions. What does this solve? “Nothing” is the correct response, friends. If Vladimir Putin himself were the puppet master (which I believe he may well be), he couldn’t be pulling the strings for his own benefit more successfully in order to encourage our self-destruction.

On FaceBook there are posts every few minutes, not of news and facts, but of stories about supposed evil plots (i.e. mail fraud, blown way out of proportion for the benefit of the current administration) that make the National Enquirer look like The Farmer’s Almanac. Much of this, of course, has to do with terrified and suspicious people who find comfort in myths about conspiracy theories, ones that are shared as “factual” instead of the absurd, dangerous lies they are. Such terror and hopelessness are, I believe,  origins and nursemaids of the terrifying “Q” phenomenon upon which history will someday look back the way we now see the appalling ignorance and horror of The Dark Ages. High emotion based upon hunches and preconceptions are being systematically tweaked and polished as actual news by those whose blind worship of our current leader in The White House couldn’t be more terrifyingly strange if it were based upon Voodoo, or secret mass lobotomies after which the scars are covered by hair and the victims continue to function, but in the most bizarre ways. The real reason for the sudden and massive changes in limiting voting rights has nothing to do with facts, but rather with fear that the current jig may be up for our current absolute monarch.  JB

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Regarding Change through Race Relations in America

In 1963 I read Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, for the first time in the American Literature class of a superb teacher, Mrs. Bernice Johnson. She taught the book through free discussion and application to whatever was familiar to us in Northern Indiana, where at that time there were only a few black students in our school. Our city was next to Gary, the place where the number of black residents had risen dramatically during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. I knew little about race relations then until after reading Harper Lee’s wonderful book. My only contacts with black people were at bus depots and occasionally at the public library. Some of my experiences with them involved friendly discussion or just getting or giving directions to certain places. There was little idea in my mind about oppression or the treatment blacks received in their daily lives in Northwest Indiana.

Some level of change came gradually through the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, Stokley Carmichael, Shirley Chisolm, and others renowned for their compassion, intelligence, and ability to lead and bring about some level of change. That change became more visible in the mid 1960’s through peaceful marches, books, and visibility of eloquent blacks who conveyed messages of hope for those who were oppressed in a nation filled with white denial and lack of sympathy, due to an appalling lack of experience with black folks (and vice versa). There was so much presumption on both sides through comments like one from an uncle of mine who deemed black people “lazy” even though he was unable to name even one black person he had met and knew.

I remember being at the home of my maternal grandparents for a visit one afternoon after school, and on the news was a film clip of Dr. King and a huge number of other people singing “We Shall Overcome.” I thought I understood what was intended by the lyric, but my grandmother peered over her eyeglasses to ask (quite innocently), “Overcome what?” As my grandparents had grown up with blacks as servants and workers (who were treated kindly and generously), they actually didn’t begin to understand or see the oppression until Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat at the front of a bus, or the young men who demanded to be served at a lunch counter in the South, where a sign read “NO NEGROES.” Those images began to gnaw at the undercurrent of conscience in many Americans sixty years ago, and the peaceful marches at that time slowly brought visibility until riots came with flames and hatred rekindled, mostly by white Southerners, who were used to ruling the roost, especially being what my parents called “white trash,” those whose only illusion of dignity came from mistreating their black brothers and sisters as inferiors. The Civil Was had not really ended in the South.

Over the past few months, I have been watching news casts about new protests, most of which have been well-meaning, even if impractical and annoying to commuters and others whose use of a few large cities was impeded by massive crowds, some of which became destructive mobs lashing out at everything and everyone in a blind scatter shot of rage against anyone who was the wrong color. There seemed to be some level of karma in all this.  Of course, it’s possible that some of those mobs were staged and supported by whites who wanted the tide of racial equality to be stopped. In any case, my original level of sympathy ebbed when I saw the wanton destruction of historical monuments, which often really need to remind us of history so that we don’t repeat it. The ugly parts of history are perhaps among the most important ones to preserve if only to goad us into doing better in the present and future. Blind indignation is bad if it doesn’t remind us that we can and must do better. The wake of such pointless ruins serves no purpose but to inflame more anger on the part of those who have been mistreated by the already abused. I wonder about what level of success is expected by violent and visionless rage that leaves in its path only destruction, ugliness, and horror.

Abuse shouldn’t occur on either side of this argument over racial equality. It serves no purpose but to ruin any progress that may already have been made or is yet to be achieved.

I just came in from my front yard, where Adjou and his Haitian work crew trimmed my lawn and the trees, which they have been doing for several years now. Their work is exceptionally good. There are also black lawyers, teachers, doctors, everywhere. That connection is a microcosm of a larger view of race. We all in this society need each other and can make things work well through mutual respect, honesty and hard work. Change is occurring, but utopia is not in sight for us as a nation…or as a world. Much remains to be done through all our efforts and hopes. If I sound like Pollyanna, so be it. I do see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel (Please excuse the tired cliché, but hope is the only thing we have right now). As a teacher of high school English for thirty-five years, I taught the novel To Kill a Mockingbird many times, and when I still read it now and again, it still gives me hope that change can and will continue to benefit all of us, not just the few.  We need to see all sides if we can, and hold up values espoused by Atticus Finch.  We need him now more than ever before.  JB

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The Terrible Need for Change

The Terrible Need for Change

It’s disturbing to me that constructive discussion and meetings with positive agendas are, in too many places, being replaced by destruction of property of innocent people in order to be noticed in the media. That will not win sympathy or understanding from those in power. There is a middle ground where change is necessary and can benefit everyone, but blind and pompous destruction is not the answer. It gets attention but really only fans the flames of rage on both sides. There are better ways to win allies.

Change is absolutely needed, but it won’t happen overnight, and certainly won’t happen by tearing down every monument or other symbol that smacks of controversy on one side or the other. Resentment on both sides is being intensified. We change history by civil discussion and understanding each other’s needs and shared history, not by trying to erase them. We need history at times to remind ourselves not to repeat it. Injustice is still rampant and felt most by minorities, who have waited too long for change and compassion. It’s not difficult to understand the fury and exasperation of the oppressed, but forcing that anger upon innocent people doesn’t help to eradicate it. Determination is only increased on both sides, instead of finding middle ground for compassion and real change for everyone’s benefit. Turning our nation into a war zone is simply not the solution.  It’s only making things even worse than before.  JB

 

 

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Uncivil Disobedience

We Americans have been nurtured for more than two centuries by the idea of personal freedom. Emblazoned upon our collective consciousness are phrases like, “the land of the free” from Francis Scott Key’s Star Spangled Banner. We have clung to the idea of free choice as a result of our history classes showing us the horrors of strict dictatorships and oligarchies across the globe. Freedom of speech is of prime importance among our many liberties, though our broader freedoms of choice have sometimes been more blurred by varied experience, wealth, race, sexual orientation, education, religious affiliation, etc.

I have noticed more bravado recently on the evening news in comments made by people who seem to refuse recognizing recommendations and even laws about wearing masks in public places and keeping safe distances during the Covid 19 pandemic. In my entire life, I have never witnessed such bravado in dismissing established science facts and safeguards with the standard, “I’m an American and have freedom of speech and assembly.” Such grandstanding and disregard for the safety of others filters down, of course, from “the top” in an egomaniacal avalanche of refutation, posturing and pretense. The result is a perilous fantasy that everything is just fine, and that everything is under control by our capable leaders. The argument by others who flout current etiquette and law about masks and distancing is the terror that we could too easily become “a nanny state.”

 

The title of Frank Sinatra’s hit song of the 1960’s, “My Way” sums up the growing attitude of many Americans, who are weary of being cooped up and want to hear or pretend that everything is just fine again. During World War II Americans thoroughly observed in their homes and businesses black-out laws, as did the citizens of The British Isles. People may have whined about the inconvenience, but people were less likely to flout the laws, because there was a deeper sense that errors could harm others too. Our sense of community seems to have suffered set-backs since then. People grumbled in the 1960’s about seatbelts in their cars, but the facts about saved lives made most people less likely to disregard the law. I liken this to the current attitude of some in their reluctance to immunize against Small Pox, Polio, Measles, or any other dreaded disease that can be fought effectively through such serums. Science is not in the list of important considerations for such people. Our national “ME FIRST” mentality has risen to the surface again through those who would prefer a display of braggadocio and poor betting instead of protecting their own lives or those of others.

People are certainly weary of being cooped up and are nostalgic about what life was even six months ago. The Bubonic Plague of the middle ages and the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 must have made folks feel similarly imprisoned and bored. Today, the media give us a much wider view with many more mixed messages that can confuse and imperil many, who want or need to be dangerously optimistic instead of hearing heart-rending facts.

As a nation, we have not been this pessimistic since the Great Depression and World War II. We need to remember that some of our freedoms become blurred and even compromised when their misuse threatens the very lives of others. So many interviews I’ve watched on television showed people wearing swimwear and no masks on crowded beaches, enjoying the limelight and bragging at not being concerned about the virus, as though their stand is heroic instead of just plain stupid and possibly dangerous to others. As much as I admire and love the writing of Henry David Thoreau, his powerful essay, Civil Disobedience is not currently helpful or especially wise. “For government is an expedient by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let alone by it.”

The worst current problem we have is mixed messaging, a yin/yang of careless disregard versus healthy fear and respect. We have to realize that this is all temporary and can be reduced only by everyone’s cooperation. In that regard, the Me Too movement has become the Me First mentality for too many. Our charity and patience are essential to our survival, and it is that mind-set that can and must prevail.     JB

 

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