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  • Last modified 13 days ago (Nov. 12, 2020)

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From the ridiculous to the sublime

Trick or treat. Lucky or unlucky. The fortnight from Halloween to Friday the 13th is proving unexpectedly eventful. And we still have a couple of days to go.

The first of the unlucky tricks started on the 31st, when treat-seeking by more than a safe number of unmasked kids led not just to upset tummies but also to a COVID outbreak more serious than most people realize.

Elsewhere in the world, having upwards of one in three school kids in quarantine would be cause for blood-curdling screams of terror.

COVID tests coming back positive at a rate four times the official “we’re in deep doo-doo” level would be more than enough reason to immediately require masks, ban out-of-town travel, shutter dining rooms, and restrict gatherings to no more than a handful of people. Just ask any European nation or many of the states in our own nation.

Here, it seems cause for little beyond business as usual, with an occasional pointing with pride to officials who appear to have drunk gallons of Kool-Aid about COVID behind some liberal myth.

County commissioners didn’t say a peep Monday when one of them relayed a plaintive plea from a constituent to reinstate the mask mandate they rejected months ago.

Although in-person classes wisely were canceled in Peabody, other districts — even the hardest-hit one, Centre — pressed on. Some were even looking forward to the start of wrestling season, where showers before and after matches and a ban on handshaking would supposedly be a cure-all.

Shutting down in-person schooling isn’t about protecting kids. It’s about keeping them from becoming the source of broader community spread.

Keeping schools open isn’t about making sure kids have something to do and parents can cash in on free day-care. It’s supposed to be about education. Remote learning may not be as good as in-person learning, but it’s a lot better than no learning and certainly beats having to take a few days off to attend great-grandma’s funeral because you gave her COVID-19.

True, death rates from COVID are falling — though not as low as the county health department’s website implied from April until this week via an outdated posting more shortsighted than anything President-Elect Biden ever accused President Trump of saying about COVID.

The problem is, hospitals are filling — so much so that, instead of being transferred to Wichita, patients from here are now being sent to Derby.

Derby? Whoever imagined that, if your life were threatened by illness or injury, you’d find top-notch treatment in Derby.

When we run out of beds, we’ll run out of cures, and the shortage we’ll experience won’t be a face masks and toilet paper. It could well be of coffins.

We hate to paint a grim portrait, but it seems fitting after that Biden-Trump thing on the 3rd, the 4th, the 5th, the 6th, the 7th, and — if the president has his way — well beyond.

Was it a stupid idea to mail out ballots in some areas to people who never asked for them and whose signatures would be very hard to verify? Absolutely. But that wasn’t the biggest surprise.

The real surprise was how a candidate whose own supporters questioned his tactics and veracity and liked him not for his policies as much as his bravado came within a few minutes on Election Night of actually winning the race.

With the top of the ticket occupied by a candidate with the highest disapproval rating in recent memory, Republicans actually made gains in many areas. And despite messages liberal media inundated us with, it wasn’t about some latent white supremacist tendencies emerging among ill-educated, red-neck voters.

America’s heartland has issues with how the coasts portray us. We’re not the fear and hate mongers they claim. We just don’t cotton to being told we have to put “he/him/his” after our names, have to hate the police, and have to regard any system or test that doesn’t show everyone as being absolutely equal as being inherently biased.

We want to hold the president-elect to his post-election promise to bring the country together. That means listening to us, not preaching at us. It means playing by the rules, not trying to pack the Supreme Court. It means encouraging personal responsibility, not making government safety nets so cushy that no one has any incentive to achieve on his or her own.

But enough bad news for this fortnight. There still are a few days left, and we can focus on more uplifting developments, like a note a World War II widow in Marion received this week, as she does on every commemorative occasion from Memorial Day to Veterans Day, with D-Day, Independence Day, and 9/11 in between.

Edgard Pots, an unlikely little ham radio operator from a tiny town in Belgium, always sends a heartfelt note of appreciation to those whose family members helped liberate him and his family members from Nazi domination during World War II.

His English is a bit broken; he’s a native speaker of Flemish. But his message is clear:

“Once again, we remember the fallen and the survivors, the American veteran, especially the guys who were in the Battle of the Bulge. We here in Belgium want to thank America and his people for 76 years in freedom. But the price was very high. So many young and brave American boys and girls came never back at home. They gave their all for us. Once again, we thank them all and we remember also the families who lost a beloved one. They are dead only if we forget them.”

At a time when much of the world seems to hate us and, to be honest, we’re not exactly at our best, Edgard and, as usual, our nation’s heroic veterans put everything in perspective. Instead of wallowing in the muck of everything else, let’s take today to honor them.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified Nov. 12, 2020

 

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