Cops Getting Shot(s)

First, let me preface this piece by saying that Police Unions have done more to maintain law enforcement agencies’ professionalism, integrity, and excellence than any politician. Commission or reformation efforts. Without unions, the problems within agencies would be tenfold worse. They do not obstruct change; they seek to ensure any changes are done with fairness toward the officers they represent and protect them from politically motivated attempts that often do more harm than good, no matter how well-intentioned.

But I am at a loss to understand the resistance of the FOP, IBPO, and other police unions to compulsory vaccinations. https://crimeandjusticenews.asu.edu/many-police-officers-refuse-vaccinations.

Officers face the onerous risk of exposure to covid because of their day-to-day activities. They often have little choice in whether they come in physical contact with those they arrest or deal with in the course of their duties.

This contact comes with two risks.

First, the officers risk becoming infected with the Virus. Almost 500 law enforcement officers across the country have died from the Virus. While no one can be certain they contracted the Virus while on duty, it is a reasonable assumption a significant portion did.

Some of those infections may have occurred before the vaccines were available. That is the risk one assumes when you put on the badge. Yet since the vaccines are now widely available—and officers were among the first to have access to them because logic dictated those at higher risk of exposure and of becoming vectors for the spread of the Virus should be first—there is no excuse not to be vaccinated.

I’m willing to bet most of those 500 dead officers and their families, given the opportunity, would jump at the chance to receive a vaccine and save their lives.

Even if they never exhibit symptoms or recover from the Virus, officers exposed to the Virus pose a risk to the public as vectors to spread the Virus. This alone seems to be one of the most confusing aspects of the unions’ resistance.

It seems a contradiction in purpose when the unions argue against an effort to protect its members.

Author

 Why would you want your officers, who protect the public, to pose a known and potentially fatal risk to society when the risk can be effectively mitigated?

And if you argue that contracting Covid should be considered an on-the-job injury—which I believe it should be—why would you resist efforts to protect your members?

Often, these disputes between unions and local government stem from more profound conflicts. Sometimes it is necessary to take unpopular positions when trying to negotiate for your members. But when the country has suffered almost 700,000 deaths from the spread of Covid, it is equally necessary to be circumspect in your choices of battlefields. It seems a contradiction in purpose when the unions argue against an effort to protect its members.

Vaccines work. Vaccines help control the spread of Covid. Vaccines save lives.

Arguing that getting a vaccination is a personal choice is illogical in its formation. It would be like claiming officers have an option to respond to calls involving certain lifestyles for which they disagree, or picking which laws to enforce because they see them as unnecessary .

Such positions make unions look petty and uncaring, something I know is not accurate. Unions need to reassess their positions and live up to their traditions of protecting their members from the politics of the day, not allowing them to become involuntary weapons against the very people they are there to protect.

Refusing to Look through Galileo’s Telescope

The issue of anti-vaxx disinformation is not a purely Republican or Democratic issue. It is not southern verse northern issue, Those who willfully embrace ignorance cross all political spectrums. My issue is not with those who have genuine concerns, my issue is with the politicians on both sides of the aisle who foster unreasonable fear for political gain and with those who choose willful ignorance.

That many American do not understand the actual risk/benefit of vaccinations and wearing masks is a failure by the government and the CDC to properly educate and inform. Those who purposely distort the data, thus reinforcing the ignorance of the most vulnerable for political gains, engage in the lowest form of behavior. Failure to make an effort to educate oneself borders on abandonment of civic duty to your fellow humans.

Humans have a history of ignoring facts in favor of faith and misplaced beliefs.

On April 12, 1633, chief inquisitor Father Vincenzo Maculani da Firenzuola, appointed by Pope Urban VIII, begins the inquisition of physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei for holding and spreading the belief that the earth revolves around the sun.

Such a belief was deemed a heresy by the Catholic Church. After his trial, the Church handed down this decision.

We pronounce, judge, and declare, that you, the said Galileo… have rendered yourself vehemently suspected by this Holy Office of heresy, that is, of having believed and held the doctrine (which is false and contrary to the Holy and Divine Scriptures) that the sun is the center of the world, and that it does not move from east to west, and that the earth does move, and is not the center of the world.

We order that by a public edict the book of Dialogues of Galileo Galilei be prohibited, and We condemn thee to the prison of this Holy Office during Our will and pleasure; and as a salutary penance We enjoin on thee that for the space of three years thou shalt recite once a week the Seven Penitential Psalms.”

Trial of Galileo Galilei

Galileo spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

During his trial, Galileo offered the opportunity for the Inquisitor to look through the telescope himself and see what Galileo himself had seen. The Inquisitor refused to look through Galileo’s telescope.

Such behavior is comparable to those who willfully ignore the overwhelming benefit of the COVID-19 vaccination and the effective preventive measures of mask wearing in public. By “refusing to look through the telescope” of the scientific literature, the information readily available from the CDC, from prestigious medical associations, and from myriad universities, those who argue against the vaccine adhere to a “belief” founded on rumor and misinformation and refuse to seek a more thorough and balanced measure of the risk.

In a recent incident on Cape Cod, much was made of the fact that 74% of those infected were fully vaccinated. What was conveniently absent from the media frenzy was of those vaccinated individuals who contracted the virus only a few were hospitalized, none in ICU, and none of the infected vaccinated individuals died. (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7031e2.htm?s_cid=mm7031e2_whttps://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7031e2.htm?s_cid=mm7031e2_w)

The reality is the vaccine worked in mitigating the severity of the highly contagious Delta variant, which was responsible for the outbreak. While the media insinuated this was an argument against the efficacy of vaccination, the reality is it was proof of it’s viability.

It also—much to the chagrin of those who “refuse to look through Galileo’s telescope”— lends credence to the need for wearing of masks in public to minimize the spread. I despise wearing the mask. I enjoyed the brief shining moments when the regulations were relaxed. But I also have a young grandchild who cannot receive the vaccine and I will be damned if I, or anybody else, would willingly put him and all the other children at risk.

Viral mutation is a continuous evolutionary process. The more successful a variant is the more it will spread, and the greater the potential for even more deadly variations to develop.

The Biden Administration needs to act decisively and mandate masks for all public locations. if the President can get the consensus of governors to support the effort, great. If he can’t, then the issue demands he take the action with or without their support. Some states have always resisted federal government actions. In almost every case, the actions of the federal government proved themselves absolutely necessary.

Twenty-five years from now, today’s youngest—those twelve years old and younger who could not receive the vaccine—will be the scholars, the historians, the medical professionals, the elected officials who will evaluate the actions we all took.

They will have the benefit, and perhaps the tragic reality, of the data regarding the spread and ultimate death toll from Covid-19 and the variants. They will be the judge of the efficacy of our actions and whether we did everything we could to mitigate the effects of the virus.

I for one hope their analysis shows we acted reasonably, rationally, and effectively, but I fear many will spend perhaps decades trying to understand how, in the face of a controllable plague, we descended into political bickering and fatal inaction.

Wear a mask. Encourage others to wear the mask and get vaccinated.

Seems such a contradiction that we so quickly rally around the flag to send troops against our perceived enemies yet when the enemy is domestic ignorance we suddenly become rabid civil libertarians about our individual choices. Too bad we weren’t so rabid about doing everything we can to save lives as opposed to taking them when we perceive a threat.

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Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Risky Business: Rolling the Dice

People are terrible at risk assessment. They commonly overestimate the risk based on factors that have nothing to do with the issue. Studies have shown people are more motivated by unreasonable fear or peer pressure to see risk in some activities than by rationality. https://www.cogencyteam.com/news/2018/02/why-are-humans-bad-at-calculating-risk/

This may explain the anti-vaxx phenomenon, particularly the resistance to getting the Covid-19 vaccine, despite overwhelming evidence of the efficacy and benefit of receiving vaccinations and their effect on staying healthy and preventing death.

The reality of the risk is in stark contrast to media outlets — on both sides of the political spectrum — crafting attention-drawing headlines distorting the actual risk.

Less than 0.004% of people who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 experienced a breakthrough case resulting in hospitalization, according to CDC’s latest data, and less than 0.001% have died from the disease.

Breakthrough cases occur when the virus infects fully vaccinated people, but the severity of the case is mitigated by the vaccine thus reducing the morbidity potential. Put simply, unvaccinated you can get very sick, require hospitalization, and have a higher risk of dying than if you are vaccinated and the risk of death is greatly diminished.

The CDC reported a total of 6,587 breakthrough cases, including 6,239 hospitalizations and 1,263 deaths as of July 26. At that time, more than 163 million people in the US were fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

By comparison, if on the recommendation of a physician one were to take low dose aspirin, as millions of Americans do, studies found some startling information,

 For 50-year-old men, taking a full-sized, 325 mg aspirin every day to prevent heart disease and stroke carries a risk of 10.4 deaths per 100,000 men per year over and above their overall death risk.

This is comparable to the risk of driving a car or working as a firefighter.

Thus the risk associated with the commonly used aspirin, of which there is no cry of outrage over the recommendation for using such medication, is higher than the vaccine, which prevents Covid-19 in the majority of cases or mitigates the severity of the virus in virtually every case.

It calls into question the ability of Americans to have empathy for their fellow Americans. Instead, out of some warped sense of personal choice smoke-screened by unreasonable risk assessment, they demand “rights’ where they should feel a sense of responsibility.

I find it ironic that Americans are so willing to demand the right to bear arms to protect themselves against a potential but unlikely threat, yet when presented with a genuine and often deadly threat, they prefer to wallow in ignorance.

I need a gun to protect myself from something unlikely to happen but have the right to refuse to protect myself and others from something with a much higher probability.

It makes little sense.

If one were to accept the CDC data for the sake of argument—and no one has ever refuted the data with any level of scientific reliability—and if every American who could be vaccinated were, then we would expect 128,000 hospitalizations and 32000 deaths from breakthrough cases.

While any death is one too many, the unvaccinated are being hospitalized and dying at a much higher rate yet the solution to the problem is right in front of them.

But then again, in a country where a significant number believe the Q-Anon myth and that the election was stolen, I suppose we should expect no less. Maybe we should just defer to nature and natural selection.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

The Lost Art of Irony

In Melba, Idaho, a group of parents have organized a prom for the local high school because the “official” prom was cancelled due to the pandemic. While I empathize with the loss of such events like the prom and graduation exercises, the public health concerns behind the cancellations still exist. (Link to story)

While there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we aren’t there yet.

Here’s the flyer for the event.

The apparently lost irony of this private event is in the name selected to compliment the “Great Gatsby” theme.

“A Little Party Never Killed Nobody”

The theme is a line from a song by Fergie used in the movie version of the Great Gatsby but not from the book by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The irony of the double negative is apparently lost on the parents. They might heed an actual quote from Fitzgerald that reflects on the past, loss, and regret.

Fitzgerald wrote,

“Suddenly, she realized that what she was regretting was not the lost past but the lost future, not what had not been but what would never be.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, “A Nice Quiet Place,” The Saturday Evening Post (31 May, 1930)

Parents have a responsibility to temper youthful wants with reality. They need to instill a sense of perspective that measures the risk against the loss. These are difficult times. More Americans have died during the pandemic than in the wars of the 20th century when America bore its burden proudly and with determination. That burden lasted years, we’ve barely made it one.

A whole bunch of them never got proms either.

If the parents want to give their children a lasting memory, make it one that has lasting meaning. A prom for most is something that will fade into the past, the memories overwritten by life. It is hardly a higher purpose worth risking lives.

The reality may be they could hold this prom and nothing would happen. It is the most probable outcome. Or, they could steal the opportunity for a long life from a young person for the sake of one memory. The words “a little party never killed nobody” may have melded well in the song, and may have fit the theme of the movie, but it is a poor justification for risking someone’s future.

The parents might be better served to take a quote from Oscar Wilde to heart before they go through with their plans.

“Experience is merely the name men give to their mistakes.”

Oscar Wilde, The Portrait of Dorian Gray

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Vaccines and Conspiracy Theory: Science vs. Belief

It would seem in America people have misconstrued their First Amendment right to free speech—where the government cannot intervene, prevent, stifle, or censor the exercise thereof—to mean anything they say is of equal value to any other pronouncement and thus immune from criticism or challenge.

This “equality without evaluation” is a product of postmodernism, characterized by skepticism, subjectivism, and relativism., It is defined by a rejection of science and authority (in the expert sense) and general suspicion of reason.

In a post modernist world, anything you say, opinion you express, or contention you make is equal to any other and immune from challenge. This is about as far from reality as one can venture. In the real world, you may have the right to claim something but not the right to insist on its veracity merely because you believe it to be true.

Every man has the right to an opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts. Nor, above all, to persist in errors as to facts.

Bernard Baruch

This sheltering under Free Speech is disingenuous. One cannot prevent someone from making a point, just like one cannot deny others the opportunity to refute it.

In our fantasy-infused society—where many people believe the Bible to be factually accurate, the Earth is flat, angels routinely intervene in people’s lives, and people channel omnipotent beings to heal incurable diseases (but, curiously enough, never regrow limbs)—facts have become malleable to opinion. It presents a clear and present danger to our survival.

One must keep in mind the folly of biblical literalism: what some see as the obvious meaning—in a passage translated from ancient Hebrew to ancient Greek to Old Latin to New Latin to Middle English to Modern English—others will not.

Here’s an example, albeit a bit unscientific. Using Google Translate which has no vested interest in the purpose of the translation and I believe would be at least as reliable as monks with papyrus and a stylus in a cold, candle lit room.

I started with “In the beginning…

Greek “Στην αρχή” to Hebrew: בהתחלה to Latin: initio back to English: initially.

After two thousand years of translation by humans, is the Bible in its current iteration something to believe is inerrant fact? Or to rely on for medical advice?

And yet, there is this from a 2017 Gallup poll…

Chart: data points are described in article

And from the same poll…

Still, while biblical literalism has waned, the vast majority of Americans — 71% — continue to view the Bible as a holy document, believing it is at least God-inspired if not God’s own words.

https://news.gallup.com/poll/210704/record-few-americans-believe-bible-literal-word-god.aspx

Coupling the perception that Free Speech means unchallengeable with the right to hold any faith without serious analysis or questioning of its basis or origin, imbues a perception of invincibility to any derived positions. Therein lies the danger. Yet, perhaps there is some advice we can embrace from the Bible, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” Mark 12:17 could be interpreted keep religion and secular matters separate.

Why does this matter?

America is one of the most religious of developed nations. It may be a diverse spectrum of religions, predominantly Christian, with a smaller helping of Judaism and an even smaller portion of Islam, but we are no doubt a religious nation. Just imagine the outrage if a President didn’t end every speech with God bless America.

Although the number of adherents is decreasing in terms of traditional faiths, i.e., Catholicism or mainstream Protestants, others are growing. The Evangelicals (a kinder and gentler term for Fundamentalists) and Charismatics (a marketing term coined to put a kinder imprimatur on Biblical inerrancy, speaking in tongues, and direct messaging with God and Jesus) are increasing in numbers.

Prosperity Preachers (who knew there was such a thing, must have been a different version of the Bible than the one I read) draw tens of thousands to their full-blown production services, more Hollywood than Holy. One such preacher, Joel Osteen, is worth about fifty million dollars. Kenneth Copeland, the granddaddy of the phenomenon whose fortune is between 300 and 700 million dollars, has his own airport. Life is good when God is your business agent.

Apparently they never read Mark 10:21 (“Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”)

This religiosity sets us apart from Europe, Australia, Japan, and other educated nations, putting us in line with theocracies and countries with state religions. We may have a restriction against government-sponsored religion, but we support it through forgoing taxes on church property and income. We do this, it would seem, willingly with the Judeo-Christian faith and more reluctantly with Islam, but it is a fact.

Why does this matter? Because when one blurs the line between beliefs and fact it fosters misinformation. Religion has its place as a guide to behavior. Still, when it crosses the line into the rational, secular decision-making process, it becomes indistinguishable from conspiracy theories, dark age mythology, and pseudoscience.

“The likelihood of supporting conspiracy theories is strongly predicted,” they concluded, by two key pieces of our national character that derive from our particular Christian culture: “a propensity to attribute the source of unexplained or extraordinary events to unseen, intentional forces” and a weakness for “melodramatic narratives as explanations for prominent events, particularly those that interpret history relative to universal struggles between good and evil.” (from a study entitled “Conspiracy Theories and the Paranoid Style(s) of Mass Opinion,”)

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire by Kurt Andersen

No better example of the danger of making choices based on beliefs instead of medical science exists than the myths surrounding vaccines

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The Great Vaccine Scare: How a Fabricated and Falsified “Study” Became “Fact”

In 1998, Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a paper linking thimerosal (a mercury-based preservative and stabilizer then used in vaccines) to autism in children. The implication was childhood vaccinations were more dangerous than the diseases they prevented.

It was a fraud, but every con has its willing victims. Celebrities such as the wife of the late shock jock Don Imus, Deirdre Imus, embraced it and portrayed Dr. Wakefield as a martyr sacrificed by the drug companies for the sake of profit. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02989-9

You may have the right to claim something but not the right to insist on its veracity merely because you believe it to be true.

Joe Broadmeadow

The British medical society investigated Dr. Wakefield and the circumstances and methodology of his “study.” The results were startling and largely ignored by the anti-vaxx community because it didn’t comport with their belief.

“In 2010, the General Medical Counsel declared that the paper was not only based on bad science but was deliberate fraud and falsifications by the head researcher, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, and revoked his medical license. Investigators learned that a lawyer looking for a link between the vaccine and autism had paid Wakefield more than £435,000 (equal to more than a half-million dollars). https://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/do-vaccines-cause-autism

In 2004, two studies performed in the United Kingdom examined whether thimerosal in vaccines caused neurodevelopmental or psychological problems; neither found evidence that early exposure to thimerosal was harmful. The study by Thompson and coworkers in this issue of the Journal (pages 1281–1292), the third and most comprehensive to date, also found no evidence of neurologic problems in children exposed to mercury-containing vaccines or immune globulins.

Although the precautionary principle assumes no harm in exercising caution, the alarm caused by the removal of thimerosal from vaccines has been quite harmful. For instance, after the July 1999 announcement by the CDC and AAP, about 10 percent of hospitals suspended use of the hepatitis B vaccine for all newborns, regardless of their level of risk. One 3-month-old child born to a Michigan mother infected with hepatitis B virus died of overwhelming infection.” (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmp078187)

And now, amid the deadliest pandemic since the 1918 Spanish Flu, the specter of doubt about vaccines raises its ugly head once again, causing people to refuse vaccinations. Vaccines that no longer contain thimerosal or any other ingredient with even the most tenuous link to autism.

A vaccination site at Dodger Stadium in LA had to be temporarily closed because of a protest by anti-vaxxers. A bizarre and dangerous example of pitting beliefs and faith-based myths against medical science. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-01-30/dodger-stadiums-covid-19-vaccination-site-shutdown-after-dozens-of-protesters-gather-at-entrance

Photo LA Times

Not sure how receiving a vaccine places one’s soul at risk. Still, there you have it—religion blurring the lines between rationality and doctrine.

They base this vaccination fear on a lie. The conspiratorial proclivities of a significant number of Americans (and it is predominantly an American phenomenon) crashing against rationality spawning a dangerous situation.

Nothing in this world is 100% effective. Not one vaccine, not one medical procedure, not one medication comes without some side-effects or risk. But focusing on the minimal risk blinds people to the overwhelming benefit. These risks are amplified by lies, manipulations, conspiracy nonsense, and outright fraud.

If you want a risk free life, you’re living on the wrong planet, at the wrong time, as the wrong species. Life has risks. Yet, with proper medical procedures, dying is deferrable if not avoidable. There was a time when heart disease always carried a prognosis of a shortened life. Now, open heart patients are walking out of the hospital within days. Some incur complications and die, the overwhelming majority survive.

If one wants certainties, you’re unlikely to find them.

In this case, faith isn’t solely to blame. People may choose to rely on prayer—which has no evidence of efficacy—over vaccines or other treatments—which have mountains of evidence of effectiveness—because they doubt the word of scientists or the government. These beliefs lack any meaningful evidence but are proliferated by conspiratorial nonsense like Q-Anon or anecdotal examples of isolated incidents of government incompetence.

Somehow, they overlook the proof of fraud because it contradicts their beliefs or mistrust of authority.

The duplicitousness of this stance eludes them. With thimerosal, the only study that linked it to autism was fraudulent. Yet, the lie persists. The consequences are frightening. Cases of measles, rubella, whooping cough, and polio are again rising—conditions which, sometimes, can be fatal.

Now, with the increasing numbers of vaccines available to bring the COVID pandemic under control, irrational fear of vaccines based on fraud, lies, misrepresentations, and unadulterated hogwash infects society.

Here’s a great example of the nonsense circulating on social media. This from a Facebook post, but similar idiocy proliferates across multiple platforms.

Does a vaccine give you immunity…. no

Does the vaccine illuminate the virus…. no

Does the vaccine prevent death….no

Does the vaccine guarantee you won’t get it …..no

Does the vaccine prevent you from spreading it….. no

Ignoring for the moment the misused words—the least of the problems with these pronouncements—some accept this is as a rational reason to forego the COVID vaccination. The limits of our own self-inflicted stupidity know no bounds.

Yet, social media is not the problem. Once, many perceived the invention of the printing press as a danger to society. The printing of the Bible in the vernacular rather than traditional Latin opened the words to millions outside the clergy’s once exclusive confines. Both religious and secular powers feared the unleashing of knowledge would be a death knell to society.

It wasn’t, but it may have been the beginning of the end for the religious hegemony over government and society.

The same concerns hover over social media. But the newness of the phenomenon ignores people’s ability to learn how to embrace new technology. It is a new aspect to free speech, but the same strictures apply; fact trumps fiction given the proper intellectual tools.

If we focus on education—giving people the analytical skills to differentiate fact from myth—people will learn to be discerning in the material they embrace online. There will always be a tendency toward confirmation bias, but truth and rationality will rule given an opportunity.

But we need to confront those who use Free Speech as a shield for spreading lies and myths. We need to subject those who offer opinions masquerading as facts to answer the challenge, prove it. Conspiracy theories based on lies, innuendo, false logic, and ignorance led to an insurrection. If we let similar actions derail our efforts to control this and any future pandemics—something we know is inevitable—we face a bleak future.

Religion and faith have their place. They can be useful guides in our daily interaction with our fellow man. But they can also be dangerous wedges used to segregate and divide. No rational person would just pray for their child’s broken arm to heal and not treat it medically. Why would we tolerate those who spread false information about vaccines that put society at risk without challenging them?

If we don’t, our dearth of basic understanding of science and our declining ability to segregate opinion and nonsense from facts and reality will kill us all. Rationality and reason are the sine qua non to our survival.

If you choose not to receive a vaccination, it is your right. But society has the right to make decisions which are for the overall good. If you find yourself banned from travel, or your children banned from school, or your job at risk, it is not a violation of your rights, it is a consequence of your choice. The exercise of rights is not a guarantee of a lack of repercussions when those individual rights cause harm to others,

Or, at the risk of being a bit crass and flippant, you could refuse to be vaccinated and, in the words of Ebenezer Scrooge, “die and decrease the surplus population.” You have the right to choose but remember, Choices: You Make ’em You Own ’em…(the title of a good book by the way click here)

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An Inconvenient Truth of Inconvenience

On 9/11/2001 America was attacked. 2,977 innocent American died as a result of this attack on American soil. The country rallied around the President, who rightfully called for an overwhelming response, and we went to war.

In February of this year, the first inkling of what would be the worst pandemic since the 1918 outbreak of the Spanish Flu began to take American lives. The President told us it would all go away in two weeks, or in a month, or by the summer, or soon.

Since that moment 311,000+ Americans have died.

On December 16, 2020, 3,611 Americans died of Covid, far exceeding the death toll of 9/11. And yet the country continues swirling in delusion over what to do. The President has moved on to a new delusion–ignoring the results of the election and claiming he single handedly developed the vaccine for a virus that was gonna fade away in the summer sun–and seething over his own inconvenient truth.

But the response, or lack thereof, to the pandemic is not all Mr. Trump’s fault. The sad fact of the matter is when it comes to reacting to problems whose solution lies in military action, blowing things up and killing people in other parts of the world, we are good at it. We’re good at it because the inconvenience of this action falls on just the shoulders of the military and their families.

But when it comes to tolerating inconvenience a little closer to home, we become a nation of whiners and criers. As a good friend of mine, Dr. Jane Auger, so aptly said,

“After 9/11 we started a war. Covid? Can’t even be bothered to wear a mask”

Dr. Jane Auger

311,000 Americans have died. Of that number, had we been willing to accept our obligation to protect ourselves and others, how many would be alive today?

Instead of our willingness to spend trillions of dollars on military capabilities, why is it we cannot be as quick to fund the means to support our economy while we practice the simple act of wearing a mask and avoiding public gatherings?

A nation that once bore the brunt of production of the materiel in a world war, that saw its people planting victory gardens and saving metal for the war effort, that saw the entire country rally behind a global cause, now is unwilling to forego happy hour or shopping at the mall because it is inconvenient.

There’s a line in the movie Patton, where George C. Scott portraying the general, exhorts his troops before battle. He says something to the effect,

“Thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you, “What did you do in the great World War II?” — you won’t have to say, “Well, I shoveled shit in Louisiana.”

George C. Scott as General George S. Patton

Years from now, when thinking of the Great Pandemic of 2020, many Americans may face the fact they shoveled shit in Louisiana…

The inconvenient truth is the death of many of these Americans falls on us. I hope, years from now, when you think back on those trinkets you had to have, those happy hours you couldn’t miss, those demands you made to exercise your “rights” to go to football games, you find it all worth it.

The families of who knows how many dead Americans the virus will ultimately claim won’t have that luxury.

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