Mitch Albom released an Op/Ed that reads no different than anything I’ve ever consumed of his, which is albeit not too much. He has a knack for reasonableness. Today, he was not reasonable. That’s because, today, he defended scapegoating.
In his post, “Coronavirus represents a war of the Everyman,” Mr. Albom asserts, “In fact, I would argue, it’s the biggest issue question facing the U.S. today. How many can be sacrificed? What’s the ‘dead’ number we can live with?”
Later, while arguing that the disease is no less dangerous despite any flattening curve, he writes, “You can get this disease, not know you have it, act irresponsibly, spread it, and indirectly be responsible for someone’s death. If that doesn’t bother you, then you are either soulless, or a president who thinks it’s cute to not wear a mask in an auto plant where everyone else must.”
And to kick things off, before unleashing those two doozies, he describes the virus as, “…a monster that attacks through the air but is animated by unlikely foot soldiers: Ourselves.”
At first, it sounds like he is sticking to undeniable and unassailable truths, but listen closer a second time.
“What’s the dead number we can live with?”
Now wait for it…
“You can…indirectly be responsible for someone’s death.”
Mr. Albom: someone’s body’s inability to heal itself from a virus does not make asymptomatic me responsible for their death.
Reader, wait! Before you think me callous, lend me your ear.
If all asymptomatic folks get back to normal life, no mask, no social distancing, no nothing—a return to actual normal life—handshakes and hugs, then what happens? We diffuse the blame. That’s what happens.
It won’t have been that the right-wing, gun-toting nut-jobs currently storming the Bastille caused the second wave, the second peak. And it can’t become the socialist, no consequence libtards who claim, “It was Trump!” that smugly prevent the second wave, the second peak.
Like the Senate who took down Caesar as a group, it will be all of us who are indirectly responsible for all COVID deaths. And when “all of us” are responsible, it means “none of us” are responsible.
As clearly as I know how: Asymptomatic individual humans will never be culpable or responsible, directly or indirectly, for deaths during “pandemics.” That is, unless asymptomatic individuals keep behaving in such a manner as to create scapegoats.
Mr. Albom: Don’t put on the mask. I know you’re scared. But sometimes people die. You of all people should know this.
Actually, every time, people die.
And Mr. Albom: Guess what? You aren’t responsible. Your pen can’t stop death. Your words can’t stop death. Your research can’t stop death. Your experts can’t stop death. Your mask can’t stop death. But your behavior can relieve your pain like a laugh can relieve sadness. Don’t put on the mask. You won’t have killed anyone, no different than before.
But when asymptomatic you puts on the mask, you put on something more. No different than Aaron the Israelite Priest of old put the sin on the goat, you put the virus on me.
Jewishworldreview.com is a news site I started perusing for headlines years ago when Thomas Sowell still wrote. It’s nothing great, but the format is simple, the site loads quickly, and the viewpoints can be provocative. Last week, there was a piece by Larry Elder on the Ahmaud Arbery murder case. The editor of the site called Elder’s article “Gutsy”. This is because Elder writes that the single greatest threat to young black men is young black men. (He wrote this in response to King Lebron’s tweet.)
That’s not a gutsy move at all. I mean I guess if Elder loses something because folks find out that he is not “progressive” or “woke” then it was gutsy. But on the whole, it was more of the same. Boring.
I can do better. And I’ve been on the road all day yesterday and today and need a break, so I will take a moment and prove it.
Firstly, LeBron surely is not to be discarded because of figurative language. He felt hurt and expressed the pain. I do this all the time. Who would I be to hint that LeBron shouldn’t tweet away? (To be clear, my ex is a whore though. The two most dangerous things I’ve ever done are solo flight in an airplane only 20 hours into learning how to fly and sleeping with my ex. Let’s put it this way: If evil was an STD, the pandemic started at her home. However, if stupid was an STD, it must pass from mother to child during pregnancy, because I clearly was infected before meeting my ex.)
More importantly, however, it’s not gutsy to write something, which is perhaps a painful truth, to someone who cannot read. The Black Community cannot read. We all know this. Mr. Elder knows this. And yet Mr. Elder went off in written language, adding a statistical defense, and we’re to congratulate him for being brave? His target audience can’t read! Drop the stats and give a speech at a Baptist church on the topic and I’ll give him props. But until then, or until I hear that he does that regularly, I’m withholding my applause.
I know this because I went to a Baptist church, was married in a Baptist church, and tried to make Baptist friends for over three years. Most of my readers are friends. Want to know how many of those recently befriended Blacks read my blog? Zero. That’s why I’m not afraid to write this. They will never read it.
But whites? We read voraciously at times. We read to the point of stupidity. For example, I just found out that my ex’s dad reads this blog. I had no idea. I knew my ex-sister-in-law did, but I never would’ve guessed my ex father-in-law was a fan. It’s been nearly eight years since the end of the marriage and he still reads it! It’s stupid. Why torture himself? Because he’s white.
To be clear, you are stupid for continuing to read my blog. Just like I am stupid for believing “mother believes that parenting time is appropriate and necessary to maintain (and develop) father/daughter relationship” when I read that. Just like Blacks are stupid for not taking advantage of the chance to change their social status by simply learning how to read English. Oh well. We’re all stupid.
But I’ll tell you something. I’m never going to stop writing and I am never going to limit the topics or content. That’d be missing the point entirely. And H- deserves a fighting chance at learning the truth of why her childhood was the way it was, learning how your daughter is trading a few short years for eternal darkness, which is where she’ll be before Hell, after my daughter figures out there’s a written record.
More than that, you need to just stop reading. You’re stupid for continuing to read. This is the first and last post with you in mind. Why do this to yourself? Block the emails. Or unsubscribe.
Actually, who are we fooling? We know it’s not even you. You’d like to get on with your day, but the matriarch calls you in when it’s a juicy post. Fine. Just like how us two stupid guys were able to de-escalate things earlier, I don’t blame you. You’re not directing this madness. Tell her to stop reading. Just like she had to be told to stop bathing a nine year old. It’s disgusting.
I’m so tired of leaders who attempt to dupe us with this, “It’s a marathon not a sprint,” talk.
Everyone knows the only reason they say it is they know they are making unbelievable decisions with obviously disastrous consequences. The analogy fails for a few reasons, but the most glaring is that there are two elements to the races mentioned: speed and distance. An analogy works best if there’s only one element.
Maybe it is obvious to you, but I don’t even know which one they mean. Do they mean, “Don’t worry about my leadership, it’s gonna be bad for a long time?” Or “Don’t worry about my leadership, it’s gonna be bad for many more miles?”
I know, I know, you think there’s no way they mean “miles”. Okay. So let’s look at the time comparison.
The world record for a marathon is run at a pace of 2m54s per kilometer which is 174s. Divided by 10, that is 17.4s per 100 meters. The world record for the 100 meter dash is 9.58s—so about twice as fast a pace.
But by now I’ve thoroughly confused myself because I don’t see the point anymore. Is the leader saying “Recovery is going to take twice as long as you think?” If that was all they were trying to say, I’d think they could say it—and follow it up with data on how long we think it’s going to be and how long it’s actually going to be (and that it’s double). And then I get suspicious because if they won’t say the “twice as long” thing in plain terms—no analogy—then I want to know why.
As I figured this, it came to mind, that with a sustained 17.4 second hundred meter dash for an entire 26.2 mile marathon (421+ sprints), I hardly think anyone would suggest the marathon runner is giving less than his absolute best effort every single step, every life-giving breath—no different than the sprinter. Both men are running their absolute fastest for the duration of the race. Hmm. Duration. Are they simply wanting us to acknowledge the problem is a long one? Why not just say that? I know, because it doesn’t make sense. Because then they’d have to define the problem. Because in their inability to define the problem, they’d look weak. So rather than look weak, they’re going to try to dupe us. Here’s a sarcastic big thumbs up.
Now it’s my turn to use the analogy. Hey, leaders! We’re not stupid. But we also aren’t seeing all that you are. So you have some advantage. Please do your best—including the way you communicate to us. For now, stop using this stupid analogy as if it means something.
This is mostly a time capsule, but also a public thank you note and call to action.
I had always thought of “neglect” as a strictly physical or emotional thing. I think I always pictured a skinny, filthy boy. Maybe the boy had a tear coming down one cheek.
Neglect now looks like a happy boy, but one who constantly lies. The lying is so pervasive that truth itself needs constant defining.
I want to record two observations that have shocked me, not because they’re unbelievable, but because they’re perfectly coherent despite being as alien as aliens.
Firstly, I recently watched a boy be immediately repulsed by my request to make a written record. It’s a look money cannot buy. Despite lacking most indicators of critical-thinking for his age, he knew immediately that the action of writing would put his well-honed methods at a disadvantage. Specifically, if we timed an event (say Math Facts) and just announced the result out loud, making no written record, the next time we discussed it, it simply became a battle of who cares the most. A, “Huh-uh. I didn’t take that long,” or, “I didn’t go that fast,” depending on the child’s mood. But with the written record, there is now accountability. And with accountability comes responsibility. And responsibility brings fear—because we’re talking about a child who has never known responsibility because the adults never taught him to read and write. And we fear what is new.
The second observation is along the same lines, but the inverse angle. With no written record, conversations and moods tend to follow the energy of the group—no matter their particularly disadvantageous content or claims. The important thing to note is that there is no undesirable consequence for the child in talking like this—just go with the flow, and add something in kind. The specific example is as follows. Recently someone influential in the boy’s life (with apparently no awareness for the power of their words) remarked the boy was becoming fat. Keep in mind, the boy is not becoming fat. Anyhow, the boy then recounts how he didn’t have kool-aid at lunch that day. The audience laughs. Then I say, “We’re actually gonna just do water for lunch from now on in any case.” He, surprisingly, says, “That’s okay! I have plenty of kool-aid in my stomach already.” More laughs all around. Then at lunch the next day, he absentmindedly asks, “Can I have kool-aid?” I say, “No. Didn’t you say last night that you were fine without it?” Oh, the look on his face. Again, it was priceless.
For me, these observations and this new understanding of neglect and accountability and responsibility and truth are priceless.
Oscar-style, “I’d like to thank the Academy (like the actual Greek one of antiquity), my parents, my teachers, my sister, my church leaders, my friends, and just about everyone who every picked up a writing utensil and wrote with it and encouraged me to do the same from the earliest age. Also, I’d like to thanks all those, many of the self-same people, who called me out for lying from a young age—despite the nowadays perceived harshness of that simple act. I don’t know if it felt unpopular back then, but either way, thank you.”
For you, dear reader, hold the children accountable. Teach the children to write. In other words, don’t neglect the children.
Obviously we watched Jack Reacher last night. I was struck by two parts. The first is when TC explains how, through training and repetition, someone not smart can be made to appear smart. It reminded me of what I was trying to say about illiterate children.
Secondly, my dad told me today that he did not buy the toilet paper that was seemingly destined for him to buy as it sat on the shelf at the store. I repeat: my dad did not buy available toilet paper. Hear me clearly: the toilet paper had his name, in cursive—at least if you look in the right light—on the packaging and he did NOT buy it. Bravo. That reminded me of TC’s answer to the blonde’s anxious query, “Should I be afraid?!” Cruise says, “Are you smart?” Blondie says, “Yes.” Tom then says, “Then don’t be afraid.”
The last time I visited a doctor my recent seminary studies entered the chat and the man subsequently commented, “Didn’t I read that they found his bones?”
That covers why I won’t be trusting doctors’ non-medical opinions.
Difficult times reveal character. They don’t create it. They don’t foster it. They simply provide an uncommon stage in a theater with better lighting.
In this post I intend to write something I’ll be proud of having written when I circle-back to it in the future. I’m not trying to say something wise. I’m not trying to calm anyone. I’m not trying to predict anything.
The train has left the station. There is no future point which will be accurately called the turning point. But the train didn’t leave the station recently, it left the station years ago. When we received the breath of life, the train began its one way trip.
Okay. I admit it. I’m angry. I’m angry because of what I’ve read from the doctors. One published his letter to his family. Another actually claimed “the sky is falling.”
Rather than the doctors admitting that their professional expertise does not extend beyond certain boundaries, they are now answering the general public’s cries for help—despite knowing that they’re out of their element. A doctor knows how to help our acute problems—most of the time. They do not know how to oversee the inhabitants of the earth.
Doctors are not elected. They are not appointed by god. These are facts.
I’ve spent a great portion of my waking hours discussing Jesus with folks. Never, not once, have I heard someone say, “You know what? I think I want in. How do I get eternal life?” That doesn’t bother me or cause me to doubt the value of that task. And I’m talking eternal life.
Doctors are screaming that we’re all going to die—BIG NEWS!—and they’re dismayed that no one listens? Join the club buddy. The back of the line is right over there.
Especially after my last two posts full of heroic bravado, I know my female faithful are longing to know what it’s really like to be my bride. Well, as luck would have it, I feel like pulling back the curtain a bit. The following back and forth occurred on the drive to see some houses. As expected, I lead. Enjoy!
“I’m just saying that I don’t think ‘how old a house is’ should automatically disqualify it.”
“All I think about is how much everything is going to break and any money that we save we will spend on fixing it.”
“Every house needs repairs. To me, and this may just be me, the key is having money for those repairs. Sure we could probably afford a slightly newer house, but we’d be signing on to not having that extra few hundred dollars every single month for the next 30 years.”
“I just want a nice house.”
“I know you do, Honey. Me, too. I just feel like you’re not seeing things the best way. So I’m going to keep trying to paint the picture I see.”
“I just would like a nice house.”
“I’m not saying we’re not getting a nice house. I’m mostly just saying we need to stick to a budget. That’s a good idea, right?”
“If we buy a house that’s one hundred years old, and then we need to sell it fast, who’s going to buy it?”
“We don’t know the future no matter what. We didn’t think we’d be moving again just three months ago. I don’t think the future should weigh so heavily in the decision.”
“You’re not understanding me.”
“That may be. But I am asking you to try harder to explain yourself then. (breath) The way I see it, even if you’re right–and we buy an old house and are stuck with it–it’s better to be stuck with a small mortgage payment, than a big one, no?”
“That kitchen was very small.”
“And I feel like I can imagine how knocking out one part of one of the walls would make it feel bigger.”
“-And, sorry, I have a philosophy that small is better anyhow. In the future, there will be more people crowding together in that kitchen than in a big kitchen, I promise. I can’t explain it, but I have seen it. In my last house, it was small and I could fill it with people. Other houses I’ve been in weren’t like that. I can see the full, noisy kitchen now. There’ll be twenty of you in that little area chatting away and interrupting each other, saying, ‘Excuse me!’ ‘Pardon me!’ ‘Ha, where’d the … go?’ Everyone will love it.”
(Here, reader, I think it’s better to spend your time imagining the look I felt being cast upon me, than read any feeble description of it.)
“No? Well, I’m right. But I’ll try another way. How’s this? When you say you want a nice and big kitchen, what I hear is that you’d rather spend three hundred dollars per month to look at a kitchen, than on anything else. Is that what you’re saying? Would you say it like that? ‘I’d rather spend money to be in a kitchen than on shoes or clothes or A-‘s education or vacations?’ Is that what you’re telling me? If so, that’s easy. I agree. Let’s do it. But then you can’t complain in the future.”
“Did you just say that to me?”
“(Here see laughter coming out of my big, beautiful smile as I shake my head.) That’s not wrong to say. It’s helpful to say. It helps us communicate because as of this moment I still can’t figure out what the problem is. The way I see it, we have to pay a certain amount of money to live in a building. And anything above that is not smart. Why pay more than the minimum? I’m talking about flexibility. Sure, if we get an old house, it may have more problems. But as they come, we have options. We can fix them immediately. Or maybe never. Or sometime in between. But all the while, we can choose and rank how important every other thing is.”
“The bathtub was very short.”
“Let me put it this way. Would you rather have $300 a month or no money a month?”
“Then I win. I’m telling you that if we stick to the budget and get an older house, which perhaps will need more repairs, we will have $300 a month extra to spend on whatever we want.”
“What if I put it this way? What I’m saying is, if we get an old house, within budget, then every month you can go to the store and buy anything you want.”
Here, careful reader, the flaw in husbands and wives trying to talk to make decisions together manifests itself fully. The following questions remain:
Did my heroic, strong, brave, and incredibly intelligent self just get worn down to promising a blank check to my wife?
Was this her aim the entire time?
Did I, in fact, promise it? Follow-up: And, if so, am I bound to keep that promise?
These questions and more are now staring me in the face as I proceed down the path only found by those seeking marital bliss.
I remember that you welcomed me home from work with a hug. It was a Saturday night. I had flown one call.
I was late the night before and that made you worry.
The roads were better tonight–the ice near entirely gone.
Your son popped out of what I can only guess was another not-quite-discernibly chosen hiding place. He had had on his favorite basketball jersey, baring his skinny arms, as this time there was no t-shirt underneath.
I’ve been gone for too many long day shifts, I thought.
I told him I wanted to talk school work before he took his shower and went to bed. Then I began to take off my boots.
You listened patiently as I explained to him the “in’s and out’s” of following instructions and the particular importance of neat work.
Before my lecture was finished, you got up from the table. You opened the freezer. At the table, I continued to instruct and correct.
You walked to the silverware drawer and returned with the ice cream scoop in hand. It was the second one I bought for you. Do you remember how embarrassed we both were when I couldn’t stop myself from noticing that you had absentmindedly placed the first one in the dishwasher after all? Whoever would make rules for cleaning an ice cream scoop?
I was still teaching the boy as you set the spoon down beside the two bowls and put the ice cream back.
What’s the rush, I thought?
But I didn’t ask. Instead I hoped to guess right. I hoped it was his long-awaited bedtime.
I hoped my hands would soon feel your soft skin and find themselves bumping clumsily into your own as you removed your soft clothes. I hoped my eyes would see in yours that you were waiting for me to take you to our bed. I hoped my ears would hear and feel your impatient and impassioned breath. I hoped my lips would feel your tongue respond to my own. I hoped my body would press eternally into yours. I hoped.
First up was the oddity that as I looked to see if there was anything to note about the passengers or vehicle passing me, I was surprised to be the recipient of a smile and thumbs up.
For an unknown reason, anytime I suspect that an occupant of another car is communicating to me, my heart skips a beat. I must be on fire, I think.
But, no. That’s not what was happening here. This was some sort of encouragement. But for what?
Was this Iowan so sheltered that my Colorado plates being in Iowa were simply exciting? As in, “Good for you! You got out!!”??
No. That just didn’t make sense. Plenty of people pass through this state.
Hmm. Not on fire. (Confirmed by the fact that another car has passed me–sans attempt to warn me of fire.) Not my foreignness. What could he have seen?
A- was in the backseat reading.
No tablet. No phone. No movie. No video game. Just a boy and a book. Yup. That’s it.
A smile and thumbs up from a stranger passing me on the highway. Why? Because I’m raising a boy right.
Secondly, I saw a bald eagle. It was just lazily riding the waves of the wind. At first I couldn’t be sure that it really was a bald eagle. But as I returned my eyes to the road, I saw a new scene. A blanket of red, white, and blue–47, 48, 49, and, yes, 50 bright stars to boot–warmed the wintry landscape. And I could tell that, even when I wasn’t looking, men and women were constantly sewing and mending this mantle by dim, fading candlelight in one great period of darkness.
Then I was sure of it. It was a bald eagle if ever there was one.
So just how does a pilot, a combat veteran, hero extraordinaire to boot, (and a good smile) motivate himself in these troubled times of doom and gloom? I’ll tell ya.
Firstly, I have an unshakable hope and belief that “good will overcome”. While I must have received this hope from some influential adults as a child, I cannot pin down exactly when or where or who those noble folks were. I’d love to share that I could easily note that they were all Christians, but as you know, the situation is always complicated when it comes to these things. (And, truth be told, for whatever reason, some of the very people I’m trying to cheer up with this post are Christians who see the end of America and subsequently the end of the whole shebang looming on the horizon.) Either way, I’m happy the LORD put these torch-bearers in my life.
Secondly, I motivate myself by doing my best to recognize the problem accurately. This motivates me because once we identify the problem, solutions appear out of nowhere.
There is a problem, make no mistake. But you all are misidentifying it and, more than that, you’re letting others misidentify it for you. You should try to recognize the problem for your own self. It’s quite a ride. But don’t take my word for it. Read on.
The problem is not Trump. The problem is not the Democrats. The problem is not the Squad. The problem is not Islam. The problem is not the climate.
The problem is that we Americans don’t know what to do with our power. In other words, we’re leaderless. We have been for a long time. We’re just going through the motions, hoping no one will bother us.
Additionally, we can still recall what it took to get the power. We can still remember not having the power.
Put another way, I’m talking about the difference between fighting for the top of the mountain, and living atop the mountain.
To be clear, we did marvelous fighting–and for all the right reasons. But now we’re in some sort of bizarre mental depression. I see future historians describing the Great Depression as having two distinct time periods. The first was financial. The second, the longer one, was of the collective mind. That’s where I want to help you. I want to swoop in and fly you out of the depression.
This particular Sunday it occurred to me that I feel (whether accurately or inaccurately) that I fear another nation/tribe/group developing weapons, strategies etc. that could be used to defeat us. IE, bigger bombs, better economies and economic theories, better religions etc. But when I take a Sunday morning to survey the passing scene, I find this to not be indicated anywhere. Instead, I keep seeing 9/11.
I see men, from meaningfully another world, (to say “another planet” would only be slightly misleading, so “another world” must suffice) using our planes against us. I see men using our planes against us. I see “men” using “our” against “us”.
So solution-wise, we’ve hit pay-dirt. Can you feel it? We now know a great deal. We know that a bigger bomb doesn’t defeat or solve “our”. Neither does better engineering defeat “our”. A robust economy doesn’t defeat “our”. A hopeful outlook doesn’t defeat “our”. Even wishful thinking doesn’t defeat “our”.
Good. We’re making progress. We know now that there is no reason to lose hope, that there is every reason to keep excelling–in everything.
Okay. “Our.” What else do we have?
So these aliens snuck one in on us. Minor loss. One battle, not the war. But the way they did it reveals the war. The war is over the Way. It’s not over land. It’s not over oil. It’s not over past sins. It’s not over present sins.
Our enemies are people whose planes we could never use to fly into their buildings–not because of their more diligent TSA equivalents, but because they haven’t invented any planes. Our enemies are people whose books we can’t read–not because they haven’t been translated, but because they haven’t been written. Our enemies are people whose greatest weapon is their neighbor’s 72 year old repeating rifle.
Why haven’t they invented or written?
Horrible question. A trap set by the great Satan himself. That question is in no way our problem.
Ok. I’ll grant you it’s interesting to say. So I’ll appease us all and utter it again.
Why haven’t they invented or written?
Why haven’t they invented or written?
I don’t know. I don’t care. You shouldn’t either.
But, returning to reality, I do know that this recognition that they use “our” against “us” motivates me like little else on this day.
Knowing this means that I know that they’re coming. Knowing this means that I know they’re on their way. It means they’re behind me. Knowing this means that I know they wouldn’t know which way to go without me. It means I can, in fact, tell “us” from “them” while looking out my car’s windows on my way to work, all the way to while I watch the international scene unfold on my phone. And it means that I can talk about who they are without the use of political designations or family associations–even in my children’s government mandated safe spaces!
To the enemy I say, “Here you go. I offer this post which contains everything you need to know about my intentions and strategy to defeat you. It’s free for the taking. (On circuit boards powered by lightning storing batteries, neither of which were invented by you!) Take it. As a gift. Because that’s all you seem to be able to do. Take or receive. Never create. Never give.”
To us, I say, “Back to clearing the path. People need to know which way to go.”