“Strangers passing in the street, by chance two separate glances meet and I am you and what I see is me.” — Roger Waters
The reading material often reveals a lot about us these days. I have made a habit of reading John Pavlovitz’s blog over the past couple of years. It’s interesting how some people have a way of putting things that make perfect sense. He seems to be able to do that to the point where it must seem like I’m plagiarizing him.
That’s unintentional and unavoidable at the same time. Good writing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It needs other good writing to cultivate it and nurture it. Of course, I don’t know how good my writing is. I suppose I finish my sentences and correctly punctuate almost everything, so maybe that is good enough these days.
The overwhelming thought over the past few days has been the new normal. This is my daughter’s school’s homecoming week. It is usually accompanied with daily activities like thematic dress and a parade. It used to have pep rallies, carnivals, and a dance as well. Some of those things are gone. They’ve become COVID causalities. Open house was also sacrificed to the COVID gods.
In a past life, I used to coach volleyball. When my daughter came along those days were quickly numbered. One of the more difficult decisions was how to handle discipline of good kids. Most coaches have a policy of holding kids out who have missed practices and/or previous games. It is a policy meant to reward kids that are dedicated for being there and also incentivizing attendance for those less dedicated.
However, theory and reality often take two different paths. Do you hold out a good player to make an example out of them or do you play them and give your team the best chance to compete? These are hard questions I don’t envy and I’m glad I don’t have to make them anymore. COVID has punched another hole in this dilemma.
Two kids have been held out of school at different points to be tested for COVID. Thankfully, neither tested positive, but since family members tested positive they were required to quarantine for a time. Except, they weren’t required by the state. The district strongly suggests it. So, does the coach hold out those kids for missing practices and/or games? They were being responsible by staying home and we want to encourage responsible behavior. Plus, holding them out could possibly make it harder on the team to compete. It’s a difficult position to be in.
We’ve become numb to the process overall. We get daily emails from our child’s campus about positive tests that day. These emails have come daily. I know I just said that, but I feel it needs to be repeated. These emails have come every day they have been in school. At the same time, my campus will send out an automatic voicemail with the same exact message. I think we’ve had a day or two here and there without a voicemail, but on most every evening we have gotten the email immediately followed by the voicemail.
We have nearly 350 million people in the United States. So, talking about 680,000 COVID deaths can sound like an enormous abstraction. That’s not even one half of one percent of the overall population. Yet, it is more deaths than any single war in U.S. history and it has surpassed the Spanish flu pandemic as well. So, do we focus on the abstraction or the real loss?
What is most painful is that most of these deaths could have been avoided. We are now seemingly at about 2000 deaths a day again and all of those deaths could be avoided. All it takes is a willingness to get vaccinated and a little common sense along the way. Instead, the virus comes closer and closer to our view.
Most people are lucky in that they haven’t had the virus. Most people are lucky in that they can’t name anyone they know or knew that succumbed to it. Yet, as the numbers mount those facts will quickly change. As we get more emails and more phone calls we will soon stumble on someone we know well. It’s already happened to us. It will happen to you too if it hasn’t already.
Sadly, COVID is still too much of an abstraction for some people to take seriously. They still believe it is just like the flu. These are the folks that seem to be taken first. They count the prominent and the obscure on an almost equal basis. Some might call that irony, but it’s really just science. Mother nature is undefeated and she’s never met an opponent that could even compete. That’s not ironic. It’s just the plain, honest truth.