This pandemic has brought many questions to my desk — questions that range from the seriousness of the virus, to conspiracies, schools, masks, and many other issues. The answers to those questions seem to change almost daily, so I want to give you some of my thoughts.

Let’s start with masks. I have been recommending people wear masks in crowded places for several months now. I know masks can help slow the spread of COVID-19, however, I do not believe it should be a government mandate to wear them.

That being said, the order has, in fact, been issued. If anyone is going into any kind of public venue, remember it is not the fault of the sales clerk, cashier, customer service representative, nor any other employee of said venue if you are asked to wear a mask.

Do not take your displeasure out on these folks. They are only doing their jobs the best way they know how, and they do not deserve to be the object of anyone’s ire. On that same note, it is not law enforcement’s job to enforce the mask mandate, but it is their job to respond to public disturbances, and they will continue to do so. Again, it is not the worker’s fault — be kind.

Regarding conspiracies: No, I do not think this is a Democrat conspiracy to unseat the president, though that may be the end result. The virus is simply too widespread and human response is too uncertain. While it is certainly destroying an economy that was booming under President Trump, I simply cannot fathom that any American would be so evil as to unleash something like this to gain power

While COVID-19 is a very serious disease that can cause great harm, I believe the 24-hour news cycle, social media, and a desire to grow media audiences has made it seem even worse than it appears. If it were not constantly being reported on, would COVID-19 be the scary beast it has become? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not downplaying the actual danger — I fear the national media has ratcheted up our reaction to it.

I am worried for our future. This virus is not going away any time soon. Masks can’t kill it, distancing won’t eradicate it, executive orders can’t stop it, and only a small percentage of people will take a vaccine (when one becomes available), and herd immunity is still in question. If you look back over the past 20 years, we’ve had many serious virus outbreaks: swine flu, bird flu, MERS, SARS, and others. Will we shut down the U.S. and world economy with each and every new virus from now on? COVID-19 seems to be more serious than others, but who knows what is next.

Do we send our kids back to school? Do we send everyone back to work except for those in the most vulnerable categories? It is certainly an option, and may be the best one, but even experts disagree if that is a good idea. I wish I had all the answers, but I don’t. I don’t feel too bad about that, honestly, as even doctors, virologists, and other experts don’t have all the answers.

One thing I do know — I am tired of, and disgusted by, all the political vitriol I have seen during this pandemic. If your neighbor disagrees with you over masks, it only means they disagree with you, not that they hate you or that they are evil. If someone disagrees with your politics, it does not mean they are stupid or that they want to destroy the county. Intelligent, caring people can disagree, and really all it means is just that — they disagree.

I am reminded of my favorite verse, one that applies to everyone whether they be Christian or otherwise: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Just imagine what we could do as a people if we only followed those words every single day. As I’ve learned over the last 18 months, some people will agree with only some of what I’ve said, while some will agree with everything, and others with absolutely nothing. Wherever you fall in that range is irrelevant to me — I will always be here for every single one of you.

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