Living Scared In A Pandemic

In only a few days, the number of deaths from the coronavirus pandemic will reach 400,000. More people have already died as a result of coronavirus than in any other pandemic in The United States, with the only exception being the ghastly 1918 influenza pandemic.

As I mark the grin milestones, I often hear “Yeah but, “Where are the flu numbers?” It’s been widely reported that because of masking, hand washing, and social distancing, the flu numbers are down significantly this year.

I’m waiting for my place in line, waiting on some semblance of protection from disease for the second time in my life. When I was a little boy, there was a girl who lived a couple of blocks away from my home on Ashland Avenue in Burlington. She could only walk with large leg braces and those crutches that had handles and metal bands for her arms. She was a survivor of polio. Other children who were ravaged by the disease could only survive in what was called an “iron lung”… only their neck and head sticking out of a machine that allowed them to live. Others died. Even though parents spoke about polio in hushed voices, we knew the score. Nobody knew of a way to prevent polio.

Then, the vaccines came. There were injections, and doses placed on sugar cubes. They were called the Salk, and the Sabin vaccines. And my parents made certain I was vaccinated pronto. The PTA organized vaccination clinics for the entire community at public schools. Doctors offices also had the vaccine.

There were lines, but not the thousand-car queues we are now experiencing. Announcement of available vaccine results in the website registration to open and close inside a half-hour. Recently, Knox County Health Department had to turn many people away from a vaccination site. They ran out of vaccine.

Rewind a few weeks, and note that the Administration’s goal was 21 million vaccinations by 2021. It was called Operation Warp Speed. That name will likely be derided in history as a cruel joke. HHS Secretary Azar told a reporter today the reason the number of vaccinations fell abysmally short of the goal, was the late delivery of the vaccine. That might be part of it, but I believe the largest part of the problem is the hodgepodge fruit salad of state policies on who is vaccinated when, and how.

We can only hope for a course correction when the Biden Administration takes over the fight against covid-19. But I don’t hold a lot of hope for a major improvement anytime soon. That’s because we learned this weekend that the government is out of vaccine. There are no reserve doses. It’s like needing an overcoat right now, only to find the wool used to make the coat is on back order.

Operation Warp Speed developed a covid vaccine in an unheard of short amount of time. I believe bureaucratic blundering and disorganization in the distribution chain led to expectations that could never be met. I don’t believe many of us ever thought we would reach a time where family members would drop off loved ones at the emergency room door, and have to leave them…alone…and sometimes to die.

So now, we wait on our turn. And me mourn those who could not survive the virus and its myriad complications. This time, it’s not the schoolgirl down the street, it’s the 65 plus neighbor who might be fighting for her life, on a ventilator, and away from any family contact.

You might have heard my story before, that I spent five days on a ventilator, suffering from acute respiratory failure following surgery, and as a result… had several years dealing with the way it left my lungs…and my mind.

There’s no doubt that the virus has its origins in China. How it got to The United States is a question for another day. Right now, I should be sufficient to worry about how governors, mayors, and health administrators deal with vaccinations in an orderly manner. Hospitals are doing what they can. Meanwhile, please wear a mask, (I often wear two masks, a cloth mask over my trusty N-95, keep your hands washed, and limit where you go.

My wife and I are relatively hermits. I pray to be spared from covid, and ask God to protect me and my family, and to heal others. I believe God can heal in an instant, and He also gave me the reasoning power to protect myself as much as I can.

The heartbreaking stories seem never-ending. I hope you’re working hard to keep from adding to the manuscript of this pandemic.

Handicapping The Possibility Of A Second Civil War

I was clicking around the Internet this afternoon, and came upon a post written by Damon Linker for “The Week”. Linker says he has been very reluctant in the past to comment about the possibility of a Second American Civil War, but the insurrection at The Capitol prompted him to outline the possibilities.

“How great is the risk of America going completely off the rails in the short-to-medium term? I wouldn’t want to bet big money on it. But the odds are improving all the time.”

-Damon Linker- “The Week”

I think, no matter your political persuasion, you should be worried. In his article, Linker outlines the types of civil wars, from the one we had in The United States, and many other conflicts. But he leaves out what I believe could be the fuse meant to ignite America into open civil strife- anarchists. They come in many flavors. Some want to hasten the breakdown of civil society so as to start a race war. There are others who just want to tear apart society in general.

You can see some of them in the videos of the insurrection at The Capitol. They are the ones who come ready for battle, willing to kill or be killed. I have no doubt in my own mind that some of the “anti” groups we have seen fomenting violence in other cities were represented in the mob that stormed into The Capitol. It was a grand adventure for them to insert themselves into the riot, and urge others on. I believe, as arrests mount, we will have proof of that opinion.

Does it not seem strange to you that we are even talking about a possible civil war, or open violence? It does to me. In my life, I have witnessed the assassination of one President, at least three attempts on other Presidents, and the resignation of another. There was a collective feeling of dread with each of those events.

In the previous century, anarchists carried out a successful attack on Wall Street, by detonating a buckboard loaded with dynamite on Wall Street. Two men were executed in connection with it, while others maintained their innocence. I’ll not argue the case here, but leave you with evidence that there have been people hell bent on destroying our democratic republic for a long time.

Our nation’s seat of government is about to be flooded with four times the number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq combined. Large fences have been erected, even barbed wire place in some areas. We are fortifying our Capitol much like some two-bit, unstable government might have to do when power changes. And I have no doubt those images will be heavily used by our foreign enemies, exploited in propaganda, from videos to posters. Remember- they still chant “Death to America.” in some places.

I hope we can keep from sliding into cults of violence on both sides. The precious principles of civil order are at stake. And that order defines how we enjoy all of our additional, wonderful, freedoms.

WE ARE AT A CROSSROAD

The eyes have it.
The eyes of the people who stormed The Capitol in a full-on riot were wide and frenzied. They were going after anything and everything in the building. Lawmakers were rightfully scared for their life. Rightfully so.

From my experience as a reporter, and based on what I saw… the insurrectionists were separated into a couple of groups. First, there were folks who were whipped into riotous behavior. They came to march, holler, and demand a different outcome to our Presidential election. They were the ones with wide, searching, random eyes. Their actions were no less criminal than what the other eyes belied.

The other eyes were windows into the planning, tactics, and communications surrounding the riot. They were the organizers, an amalgam of white supremacists, conspiracy believers, those who are trying to hasten a second civil war, and anarchists. Police say they used sophisticated communication systems- something we have seen in other riots. They helped the leaders of the insurrection shape the spear that pierced the Capitol.

One rioter is seen trying to climb through the window into one of the legislative chambers. She falls backwards, mortally wounded by a law officer. Two Capitol Police officers were hurt. Two more people died of medical emergencies. And no telling how many others had serious injury.

There appeared to be thousands at the Capitol, but we need to remember that a vast number of people who showed up at the rally, left in peace. They hollered, clapped, and shouted – but kept what they did within the scope of the law. It was their right … from the First Amendment.

Now, there are more troops in Washington than there are in Afghanistan and Iraq. Read that sentence again. It’s scary. For the first time since The Civil War, National Guard members are inside The Capitol, guarding its safety, and the safety of people who work inside. These folks are your neighbor, your grocer, small business owner, teacher, and first responder.

All that in mind, and I ask you this-
Who will you sit with in church this weekend?
Not everybody goes to church, of course. But for those who do, how do we decide who sits where. Are pews roped off with signs that say “Trump Supporters Only”, or ” Voted for Biden? Sit in this row.”
Moreover, does Almighty God care? As a Christian, I worship a Savior who is named “The Prince Of Peace”, among other things. The empty Cross is all I need to find my way through this world, and although I don’t deserve it, Salvation is mine (and can be yours, too) no matter how I vote.

I can’t see how actions inside The Capitol could do anything but disappoint The Almighty. Of course, there was that time when Christ showed a coin with Ceasar’s image on it. He said there was government, and it should have its due… but showed witnesses there was a better way.

And this weekend, thousands upon thousands will gather. And, as we sit with social distancing and recite our Canons and prayers, we will sit together. Because that’s the way we are taught that its intended to be.

Peace. Sometimes very elusive, but still a noble goal