By Chris Goodfellow
I am awash with emotions today–everything from sadness to anger to gratitude at this year end. This chart below should be the wake-up call to humanity that we are clearly on the wrong track. It clearly shows the fourth wave is way off the charts and the dramatic suddenness of the rise should alarm all. Yes, Omicron appears, for now, to be a less lethal form of the virus and for that I am grateful. But I am of the old school, the sale is never complete until you have collected the money and cashed the check. We know Omicron is rampant and widespread. We have no idea of the long term implications.
However, what makes me sad and angry is the manner in which we have fought this war and we have learned nothing in terms of our choices, behaviors and most critically our capacity for unity in face of a threat to reduce that threat. We are losing the war because after Omicron will come another mutation or another deadly virus. It reminds me of Vietnam, of Iraq or Afghanistan, constantly fighting wars with one hand tied behind our back and without the national resolve to succeed in winning. Just muddling on in a sea of words replete with dissension and platitudes We just get worn down, tired and become increasingly numb to the reality around us until we simply lie down divided and defeated. That is the new normal in America. Divided and defeated.
This is certainly not the American way of past generations that, when confronted with serious threats, stopped arguing, put shoulder to the wheel and got on with victory. How can it be that patriotism and the flag mean such different things to each half of the population?
My sadness is deepened when I think of the selfishness of individuals whose reckless behavior continues to ignore the serious strain all of this places upon those who have to deal with the mess of sickness and death in this scourge–health care workers, cleaners and sweepers, nurses, doctors, first responders and paramedics, morticians. They all have to deal with this and I’m pretty sure none signed up for this never-ending war, and are actually experiencing a form of abuse. They are falling victim to burnouts. Who can blame them?
The individuals I am talking about are the ones who have made a mockery of this virus from the beginning. The ones who wouldn’t so much as give up one little bit of their perceived individual liberties to the common good to defeat this virus. These are the ones who have brought us to this brink now, where a deadly virus has become politicized, which should never have ever happened. I’m sad they have brought so many to the point of questioning our public health officials to the extent that any future warnings may go unheeded. Sounds familiar? Cry wolf once too often and no one listens.
My anger is reserved for the political class who since the last World War have, with few exceptions, never actually had the courage and guts to win any great principle or cause since the greatest generation stood down the Nazis and fascism. Today they are seemingly more concerned with lining their pockets and winning the next paltry election than doing the right thing. Whether it is civil or voting rights, universal higher education or universal Medicare or climate change, there has been no real backbone to get on with getting things done. In fact with the present attack on such things as Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision legalizing abortion that appears on the cusp of being overturned, we are backpedaling.
For the greater part of my life it has been endless arguing, delay and obfuscation rather than actually making things better. True, we have made small steps perhaps with LBJ’s Great Society, the Voting Rights Act and the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency. But even these measures never went the whole way. It is impossible today to look at the efforts of Republicans to deny the right to vote once again by gerrymandering and closing polls, and not be cynical. We have had to witness the destruction of the middle class since Reagan in favor of an anointed few who, with the aid of a crass mass media, have ascended into a celebrity or an uber wealthy class so out of touch with the strife and burden that the great unwashed masses face in their daily lives. A class that has the arrogance to take private jets to summits on the climate crisis. They would like you to believe this is the great America we should celebrate. One great TikTok show.
I’ve never been so disgusted as when a former president referred to Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville as “very fine people,” effectively affronting every veteran of the Second World War, or when he attempted to do an end-run on the Constitution and the election on January 6 to remain in power. We all know what it was about. Perhaps disgusted is not the correct word. But then let’s put icing on the cake of outrages by pondering how a bloviating, bloated caricature of a leader stepped to the front of the line and emptied the British Treasury of a reported $4 million of Covid support funds for his Scottish golf courses.
I also feel gratitude that I have largely been spared by Covid, and for the friends I do have. We have weathered a terrible year in 2021, and I can only hope that 2022 will bring the necessary changes to put America and the world back on course. The most important change is for us as individuals to realize that we do not exist alone in a vacuum. There is always a cause greater than oneself.
Chris Goodfellow, a retired pilot, is a resident of the Hammock.