A Prayer

Lord God of all, we ask your grace, mercy and protection over all Americans and those who have helped us and are in danger in Afghanistan. Lend aid to those who would help them escape in safety, and let none be left behind. Strike fear into the hearts of the enemy, Lord; hold their fire and destroy their weapons so that our people may escape. I know that You are all powerful and all knowing, and ask Your protection for those who fight against evil and those who desire death. Amen.

I have been following the news of the American military’s abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan with growing horror, disgust, and a feeling of utter helplessness.

While I can’t disagree with the need to get out of Afghanistan, I am astonished over the way it’s been done. I’ve asked a few military friends about their thoughts on the matter, and the answer was unanimous; this was NOT the way to do it.

A prayer from August 16 in my desktop Jesus Today calendar says “This world is increasingly dark, but the Light of My Presence is as bright as ever.” Well, the world is very dark for Americans and Christians in Afghanistan. Americans are being told to “shelter in place” and cannot be guaranteed to have safe passage to the airport. Another slap in the face is that the State Dept Overseas Security Advisory Council stated (August 14) that “Repatriation flights are not free, and passengers will be required to sign a promissory loan agreement and may not be eligible to renew their U.S. passports until the loan is repaid. Cost may be $2,000 or more per person.”

I call that adding insult to injury. Meanwhile, people from other countries pour across our southern border and are given free passage to various cities throughout the country. They don’t need a covid test, either. In what universe does all of this make sense?

Americans, as a kind and caring people, most of whom believe in God (or at least some sense of morality) can’t really wrap our heads around the fact that the Taliban think nothing like we do. This is a culture of death, where children are recruited as sex slaves or as suicide bombers. Immediate beheading is considered an appropriate punishment for possession of a Bible, and women and children are considered chattel.

Deep breath. Serenity prayer. OK. Right now, I have work to deal with. If all I can do right now is to work, do my job, and pray, I’ll do that and invite you to do the same.

Friends

My friend Keith pointed out that August 1 is National Friendship Day. How timely! Over the recent years, many friendships (and family relationships) have been tried over deep divides in our country, many of them political.

It’s pretty insane, when you think about it. For decades, I never really cared that I have a lot of friends who are on the “other side of the aisle” from me politically. I still don’t. Politics has nothing to do with why I love them and consider them friends. There are more important things in life, and those are the things that we hold in common and that has led to our friendships.

Sadly, this isn’t always the case. My sis-in-law sent a link to a very thoughtful (and nonpolitical) article on the loss of friendships and family relationships caused by disagreement over CoVid. You can find it here: LOSING FRIENDS AND FAMILY DURING CORONAMANIA | by Mark Oshinskie | Jul, 2021 | Medium

I won’t tell you that I haven’t experienced some difficulties (and shunning) because of the Wuhan Flu. But what the hell are we doing here, letting something like this divide us?

I can hear some outraged comments: “It’s a matter of public health!” OK, fine, I don’t exactly agree, but that’s ok. I’ve written before about public mental health; suicide is a lot more deadly than the Wuhan Flu.

As people of faith, we must not give in to letting something worldly divide us. I have actually heard comments stating “well, I don’t feel sorry for so-and-so, s/he wouldn’t get vaccinated!”

Wow. Just…wow.

Sadly, I don’t think this mindset is going away anytime soon – but we can combat it by avoiding the trap of division.

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. ~ Mark 3:24 – 27

My friend Keith Horcasitas shares this invitation for August 1 at 7 AM in Baton Rouge:

National Friendship Day, August 1, 2021. With all the discord and polarity in the world, I have a modest proposal for fellow Redstick citizens – to tie in to the great “Let There be Peace on Earth” song which notes “…and let it begin with me!” A friendship Promenade for Peace, sponsored by Prayer Care, LLC – in line with social distancing and masking – will be held tomorrow, Sunday, August 1, 2021 – National Friendship Day, 7 AM, Baton Rouge City Park, starting by the City Park Labyrinth. Come out for a simple meet and greet as we, of all walks of faith and life, come together as friends to exercise and encourage one another to promote peace in our hearts. And please bring your 4 legged friends, who sometimes help us at meeting and greeting!

This is a 15 minute walk with unitive prayers and songs. If you can’t be there in person, be there in spirit, and let the Spirit remind you of what is truly important.

Woke?

Jesus was “woke.” Or…was he?

According to that bastion of knowledge, Wikipedia, “woke is a term referring to awareness of issues that concern social justice and racial equality. Originating in the United States, it has also been used to refer to awareness about broader social inequality on issues such as gender and sexual orientation.” Wikipedia, accessed 7/6/21.

Well, Jesus was certainly concerned about unqualified justice and equality. As for prejudice, well, just ask the Samaritan woman. According to this definition, Jesus was a pretty woke guy.

So I wonder how he’d feel about so many corporations and highly visible individuals who fall over one another in order to display their wokeness (or would that be wokedness)? I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty tired about reading that “Company blah blah is proud to support fill-in-the-blank.” Well, goody for them.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all against corporate (or other) donations, and they certainly deserve to have a thank-you sign or banner at the ball game or their name on a teeshirt or a big thank-you plaque. I also really appreciate that some companies have causes that are sincerely close to their heart, and they spread information about their causes through their business (such as the Dave Thomas Foundation and Wendy’s Hamburgers).

But I roll my eyes when wokeness is clearly an afterthought. I wonder about those company board meetings: “Quick! Who’s in the such-and-such category can we give some money to so we’ll look like we’re not the robber barons that take home millions in bonuses every year? How fast can we get it on the Twitter feed?”

Jesus spoke about this:

“When you give to needy people, do not announce it by having trumpets blown. Do not be like those who only pretend to be holy. They announce what they do in the synagogues and on the streets. They want to be honored by other people. What I’m about to tell you is true. They have received their complete reward. When you give to needy people, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Then your giving will be done secretly. Your Father will reward you, because he sees what you do secretly. “When you pray, do not be like those who only pretend to be holy. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners. They want to be seen by other people…

Matthew 6:1-5, NIRV

Do not be like those who only pretend to be holy.

Wise words from the original “woke” guy.

A Holiday of Faith

Yesterday we had a conversation in the choir loft about secular vs. religious holidays. While not a religious holiday, Memorial Day is a day of faith, and yes, a sacred one that should transcend all faith traditions.

We in the USA mark the last Monday of May as a day to honor and remember those who gave the gift and sacrifice of their lives in their service in the armed forces of the country. Sounds secular, right?

One of our most basic recognized rights in this country is the freedom to worship freely. While we take this for granted, we don’t often stop to think how rare this was in 1791 when it was included in the Bill of Rights.

Without the sacrifice of those we remember today, there’s a good chance we would not have been allowed to worship as we please.

As it is, church attendance has dropped to an all-time low, perhaps in part because of the avoidance of government to support religion in any way. When I was growing up, heaven forbid that any school would host a sports tournament that included play on Sunday morning. This is no longer the case.

Whatever you think of the reasoning for certain wars in our history, never forget that each individual who took an oath in the armed services agreed to pay whatever price was asked by our nation, including the cost of their lives. 

I don’t know who said this, but it’s worth repeating:

(This may be said of some of soldiers of certain other countries as well, but right now I’m talking about our own Memorial Day)

Today, please take time to remember and give thanks for the sacrifices of those who gave their lives so that we may worship as we please and live in freedom.

Alleluia!

This is the second Easter of CoVid. How strange it feels. Last year, we understood the need for being locked down. Besides, it was only to be for a few weeks. But a year later, we still aren’t doing the usual Easter things today; no vigil service in the early morning. Easter egg hunts for children – at least public ones – are few and far between. Everything is curtailed, muffled, depressed and suppressed.

In CoVid Year 2, we need Easter more than ever. But then, we always need Easter. Right now, the message of Easter – salvation and the eternal, fierce, unending love of God – is more necessary to our psyches and souls than I can ever remember.

We are a world in uproar; a nation divided by many foolish, superficial things. “How can the saving of human lives be foolish and superficial?!” you may ask? It’s not, and I’m not referring to masks and lockdowns etc. Besides, the saving of lives is never superficial. What IS superficial is where our focus lies. This is no political commentary; rather, I believe we would all be better off if we were to focus on something other than fear, division, who feels insulted and “offended”, what someone’s preferred pronouns are – and instead focus on the promise of Easter, which is open to all of humankind, regardless of race, ethnicity, income, gender, and so on.

For those who might cry “enough of prayer and talk, we need action!” I would ask what greater action could there possibly be than a loving God who gave humankind the greatest gift imaginable?

To simplify (greatly), can you imagine this loving God saying “how can I POSSIBLY make these people understand how much I love them?!? And how much I want them to know me, to join me in heaven to be with me forever? Ah! I know, I will send my own son to earth. Maybe HE can get it through their thick skulls. I will ask him to do whatever it takes to make them realize my love.”

Jesus did whatever it took. That, my friend, is action.

Yet we divert our attention away from the most amazing, freeing, incredible gift in the history of humanity and stand around quibbling about…oh, I don’t know, the correct amount of social distancing at the Easter egg hunt?

The gift of salvation through Jesus Christ is the miracle of Easter, and the core belief of Christianity. It doesn’t matter what Christian tradition you follow, and it doesn’t matter what you read and study as “Science.” It really doesn’t. None of us gets out of here alive in body, but through the love and sacrifice of Christ, we can all get out of here alive…forever. With a God that loves us beyond all understanding. Isn’t that a relief? Isn’t that something you’d rather focus on? We cannot seek the living among the dead, and never forget that the strife and division that we see daily in our country and in the world is death to the spirit.

The cross is empty. The tomb is empty. Alleluia! The Lord is risen!

Another Easter post you may enjoy is from 2017: The Gift of Skepticism.

The Saint Formerly Known as Maewyn

Ah, Patrick! Patron saint of Ireland, and perhaps of green beer as well. Today is yet another commemoration turned into countless opportunities for marketing (and green beer). Hey, don’t get me wrong, I love St. Patrick’s day. I have my shamrock leggings on even as I write this, and my 4-leaf clover earrings as well. You won’t catch me drinking green beer, though – Guinness is too dark to turn any color but…well, Guinness.

Amidst the parades and parties is the life of a man who was an amazing figure. The nuns told us he used a shamrock to teach the trinity (no evidence for that, though – but when did that stop the good sisters?) and that he drove the snakes out of Ireland (no evidence for that either. In fact, no evidence that snakes ever DID exist in Ireland. If they also lack mosquitos…I’m moving).

You can read in many places about the life of Maewyn Succat, who changed his name to Patricius when he became a priest. (Interesting tidbit of info I found; according to legend, that was Patrick’s birth name.) It’s fairly common knowledge that he was born in Britain around the end of the 4th century, was captured and enslaved in Ireland for some years, and then returned to that country as a priest.

Perhaps a good way to celebrate this rock-star-among-saints is to read some of his own words:

Another night – I do not know, God knows, whether it was within me or beside me– I heard authoritative words which I could hear but not understand, until at the end of the speech it became clear: “The one who gave his life for you, he it is who speaks in you”; and I awoke full of joy.

Another time, I saw in me one who was praying. It was as if I were inside my body, and I heard above me, that is, above my inner self. He prayed strongly, with sighs. I was amazed and astonished, and pondered who it was who prayed in me; but at the end of the prayer, it was clear that it was the Spirit. At this I awoke, and I remembered the apostle saying: “The Spirit helps the weaknesses of our prayer; for we do know what it is we should pray, but the very Spirit pleads for us with unspeakable sighs, which cannot be expressed in words.” And again: “The Lord is our advocate, and pleads for us.”

from the Confession of St. Patrick found at Confession | St. Patrick’s Confessio

When reading the words of Patrick, I am struck by his humility and his courage. Take some time today to read a bit before you head out to drink green beer.

As for me, I’m going to read more from Patrick – and then head out to have a Guinness and listen to bagpipes!

Cancelled?

The other night, after enjoying my egg drop soup from Hot Wok (a local excellent Chinese restaurant), I cracked open my fortune cookie. Would I read a gem of wisdom or a glimpse into the future? Neither. It said: “you will have a successful year.”

I dropped the fortune and laughed out loud. Really? REALLY? 2020? We’d seen the accountant for the business the day before, who summed up 2020 by saying “It’s a good year if one’s still in business.” Sadly, that is true as far too many businesses (large, such as Stage Department Stores, and small, such as our former favorite Mexican Restaurant, Los Mayas) have had to close permanently. Not even an economy that was rocking and rolling at the end of 2019 survived the CoVid shutdowns.

Christmas this year has taken on a somewhat surreal aura. Some countries have embraced their inner Grinch and have “cancelled” Christmas. I understand urging people to avoid large crowds. That’s a good idea even in a garden variety flu season for people with compromised immune systems. But how does one cancel Christmas?

Every year we grumble about the commercialization of Christmas. This year I shake my head as retail outlets feature sparkly holiday wear. Where are we gonna wear the glitz this year? Matching family pajamas are quite the rage this season, as are holiday themed masks. Never doubt the power of American ingenuity when it comes to marketing even in the midst of a crisis.

I know I’m not alone when I say that the Christmas spirit has been late in visiting me. I didn’t put up the usual tree this year, just a tabletop decoration, a tiny creche, and stockings. But…no Advent music. No choir practice for Christmas. No choir at Christmas – no vocal music at all in church. The human voice is the only musical instrument crafted by God – and it is silenced.

Yesterday, music partner Joshua and I played through some Christmas music – everything from O Come all Ye Faithful to Jingle Bell Rock. My family’s Christmas Eve celebration will be substantially smaller this year, limited only to those in our “isolation pod.” We’ll play music, and yes, sing Christmas Carols. Music is a way of prayer for me. While we always need prayer, we’ve needed it more than ever in 2020.

Too, the promise of Christmas is more timely than usual: The promise of redemption, of salvation, and the mystery of grace. Christmas should remind us that the unexpected can yield miracles. The world was waiting for a savior; and it was thought that this savior would be a mighty warrior king who would save the Jewish people from the tyranny of Rome.

Instead, they got a tiny baby who grew into a man who spoke in parables, healed the sick, worked miracles, and became enraged at the money changers in the temple. He didn’t take up arms against the Romans; instead, he became a sacrificial lamb. His disciples didn’t get it until the resurrection. We don’t get it either, but such is this human lifetime, seeing through a glass darkly.

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com

So much has been written by great theologians about the miracles of the Incarnation and the Resurrection. This year, though, the words of the great philosopher Dr. Seuss are most appropriate:

“Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming!
IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.
And what happened then? Well…in Whoville they say,
That the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day!”

Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Joshua and I played and sang through Christmas carols, I felt my mood lighten. It was starting to feel like Christmas. No country, no government, no one can cancel Christmas. They can try to cancel gatherings, events, etc. But Christmas? No. Christmas comes just the same, and we are blessed and redeemed because of it.

Clanging cymbals

Right now, our world is running on hatred and fear. Just look at the news (you can’t escape it), and you’ll see riots, destruction, fear spreading and a focus on division.
I am told by talking heads and pundits that I should “speak out.” Others say that I have “no right” to say anything. Don’t forget – I am also told that I should stay home to avoid being an unwitting spreader of a deadly virus. I am told that I should/should not/should/should not wear a face mask.

I’m not alone when I say that I am tired, weary, and worn out.

iris small

 

People are asking a question that is hard to answer: How do we fix the many wrongs of the world and of our society?

In this cacophony of voices crying for attention, we really need to hear this:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

~ 1 Corinthians 13:1 – 13

We usually hear this passage read at weddings.  But interestingly, Paul’s letter was sent to a church that was experiencing – you guessed it – division. It is timely, and timeless.

I’m sure many will say this approach is too simplistic and downright impossible.  Please, please – go back and read it again. Let it sink into your bones. Let this be our starting place and returning place for healing.

It’s difficult, I know. As humans, we may never have enough love. But if we draw from the endless well of the love of God, we have a never-ending supply of love and compassion. That’s what we need.

Because without love, we truly have nothing. And only with the love of God can we have any hope of making sense of this mess.

Let not your hearts be troubled.

The gospel scheduled for this coming Sunday is that of John 14. How especially appropriate is this, as we are surrounded by an almost hourly dose of fearful statistics and more stories of a virus with mysterious ways! We are inundated everywhere we turn by calls for reopening the economy / staying shut down / we will have to wear masks forever / people will die!! / suicides on the rise / businesses are failing / etc.

It seems that every utterance is one of fear or one of derision towards one school of thought or another. I hear and read comments that are diametrically opposed: We Should Already Have The Economy Opened up versus We Need To Stay Shut Down Until They Find A Vaccine. The irony here is that most people agree that this virus should not be taken lightly and we need to understand what will be the best approach for the greatest number of people. There is a point of diminishing returns, and everyone has different opinions on it – and those different opinions fuel the fires of fear.

I can’t help but wonder: If we follow Christ, then why do we fear?

AA mountain laurel

Of course, we fear for our loved ones who may be more vulnerable. We fear for ourselves, our family, friends, coworkers, those in the medical field, the folks who work at the grocery store, the baristas at our favorite coffeeshop, the folks who own and who work at our favorite restaurants and businesses, our country, and the world.

But it seems that we are forgetting the most critical thing: God’s got this.

Take a breath. God’s got this. We have a responsibility to do what we think is best – and then, let it go. Not everyone is going to agree on the same approach to this.

I keep hearing comments like “I get so angry when I see people running around without masks! They are so inconsiderate!” (Maybe they have a breathing or sinus problem that wearing a mask exacerbates. Maybe they’re trying to practice social distancing, so stay out of their way.) I also hear comments like “where are all these people going? Why are there so many cars on the road? They need to stay home!” (Maybe they’re just getting out of the house for a ride. Maybe they’re running an errand for someone who’s vulnerable. At any rate, their cooties are in their cars with them.)

Take a breath. God’s got this. All we can “control” (and I use that word lightly) is what WE do. We’re in charge of our own choices, and the rest is up to God.

Isn’t that a relief? Why are we forgetting this?

But people will die!

Well…yes. I hate the idea that I may lose someone (or my own life) to this virus, and I know we all feel that way. But have we forgotten that we all die anyway? Sure, we don’t want to go before it’s our time, but again…our time is in God’s hands.

There’s a lot of fear and disagreement about “opening up,” and I get that.

But when we fuel fear, we separate ourselves from God, and we encourage others to be separate from God.

AA yellowtops

We focus on the fallacy that we can control this, and we can’t. Sure, we can be cautious, wash our hands, and do what we can to “flatten the curve.”  Let’s not forget that yes, there will be more deaths attributed to this virus. (There will also be more deaths attributed to auto accidents, cancer, influenza, heart disease, suicide, war, violence, etc.) As people begin to move around more, there will almost certainly be an increase in infections. Don’t forget the idea of the shutdown was to not overwhelm the medical system, and we’ve been successful with that.

We don’t have to live in fear. Importantly, we don’t have to wield fear as a weapon to “make people behave.” We don’t have to judge others or make them examples of our righteousness if they don’t behave as we (or some expert) thinks they should behave. We might do well to remember that the models we’ve seen have been wrong, and that logic tells us we should be cautious – but not panic.

Be not afraid. Let not your hearts be troubled. God’s got this.

Discombobulated.

We’re all a bit discombobulated these days. Even for those who are still working (I am), things feel fragmented because we really can’t count on much of anything.

Which is sort of silly when you think about it – life is never certain, and I laugh every time I hear anyone in a Covid-19 briefing say “we can’t guarantee that it will be safe to…until…” or “We won’t open up again until we can guarantee the safety of….”

Seriously? Can you EVER guarantee safety? Of course not.

But…I’m tired of the fear-mongering and the blaming that is going on. Yes, Covid-19 can be very serious. It is a strange thing, as many who get it show no symptoms, or have nothing worse than a bad cold or bronchitis. Others get it, and it’s pure torture or even deadly. I’m not downplaying the severity of this virus, and with all of the talk and numbers flying around, I’m looking at some perspective.

isolation

Perspective in isolation.

 

The models that experts and leaders point to in decision making have been notoriously wrong. We’re told that’s because we’ve been “flattening the curve.” I don’t know if that’s really the reason, because I don’t have all the data. None of us do.

 

I’m worried, though, about the toll this is taking in mental health, and there is very little talk about it. Why should I be surprised? Mental health comes into play when there is a celebrity suicide or a mass shooting, and then it goes lurking back into the shadows again. This is something that has concerned me for years; I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, no matter when/where/how/if I am practicing currently, I keep my license and continuing education active.

For perspective:

As of April 20, the CDC reports 746,625 cases of Covid 19 in the United States, with 39,083 deaths attributed to the virus. These numbers include “probable” cases. This is since 1/22/20, when that tracking began. (Note that the deaths include people who had the virus, not necessarily who died OF the virus.)

Now, let’s look at the 2017 – 18 flu season. (Yes, I know it’s not the flu. Bear with me a minute, OK?) Here are the CDC’s estimated rates of influenza-associated disease outcomes for all ages in the US:

44,802,629 infections

20,731,323 sought medical attention (that is, saw a doctor: Do I have the flu? Yep.)

808,129 hospitalized

61,099 deaths

But, as we are often reminded, Covid 19 is NOT the flu! We have a vaccine for the flu. (No, not really, but we have a sometimes-more-effective-than-others “shot” for the flu that is called a vaccine.) Wow, a good thing we have a flu shot, that keeps the numbers down to just…45 MILLION infections!!)

For more perspective, the National Safety Council notes that in 2018, 39,404 Americans died in automobile accidents.

For even more perspective, the CDC notes that every day, approximately 123 Americans die by suicide.

That’s nearly 45,000 Americans a year who choose to take their own lives.

SAVE.org (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) offers training to the public as well as to mental health and health professionals. They compile statistics from the CDC, NAMI and others, and those stats are even more grim than when I earned my MSW three decades ago.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages. (Where does Covid 19 fall? I’m just curious.) Depression affects 20 – 25% of American adults in any given year, and only half of Americans who have a major depression episode (which is VERY different from “the blues,” reactive sadness, grief, etc.) receive treatment.

new gym

What will each day bring?

So what does this have to do with Covid 19?

My personal opinion, based on professional experience (aided by logic and an understanding of human nature) is that the effects of prolonged isolation, job loss, and downright economic disaster is going to have repercussions that may be even greater than those of the virus.

A recent article in US News & World Report noted that suicides have gone up by 35% in the last two decades. Jonathan Singer, the president of the board of directors of the American Association of Suicidology, noted that many “deaths of despair” happen in rural areas where there are fewer economic opportunities.

“Poverty breeds hopelessness, loneliness and depression, all emotions that increase the risk for suicide.”

Right now, most of the country is shut down. Following a great period of job growth and record low unemployment, many Americans were feeling optimistic about opportunities, work, and a chance to get ahead.

But now we have an economy in freefall, with over 22 million filing for unemployment, millions of Americans scared to death over a virus that hasn’t been anything like what was forecast, and poverty is getting up close and personal with a LOT of people. The models used to “predict” what was to have happened with Covid 19 haven’t been right yet.

But we can’t end these shutdowns yet! The infection rate and the death rates will go up!

BUT…the whole idea behind “flattening the curve” was to avoid overwhelming the health care system. I think we can safely say that we’ve done that. There will be people who point to increased infection rates (when things are “open” again) and say “see? We moved too soon! Disaster is on the horizon! Shut it back down again!!

The longer things are shut down, the more likely people will be to swarm everywhere they can once things are “open.” And yes, we will no doubt see more infections and , sadly, deaths. (I am interested in following the clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine. LSU is to be doing one, and they’re not alone. Fortunately, we already have a track record on that drug; it will primarily be a question of investigating its efficacy with treating Covid 19).

A prolonged economic shutdown breeds poverty…hopelessness…and loneliness. Those prone to depression and anxiety are going to have a worse struggle, and even those who aren’t “prone” to such things are likely having a tough time. (Let’s not even think about those poor souls with OCD! Hand-washing on steroids!)   If you’re worried about feeding and housing your family and you and your spouse are suddenly unemployed, you want to get back to work. For many small business owners, this economic slide means the end of their dreams.

But the danger…

Well, that’s why I included those flu numbers. We don’t freak out over the flu. We wash our hands, don’t go to work when sick, and do our best to stay healthy and not think about this deadly disease that kills tens of thousands each year. We could catch the flu, even if we had a flu shot. (It’s happened to me.)

masks upload

We do our best to stay healthy.

We don’t freak out over the prospect of dying in a car accident. We put that out of our minds, buckle up, check the rearview mirror, and drive to work.

I can promise you that somewhere in this country, right this moment, there is someone (and no doubt more than a few someones) worried, fearful, and in despair over the economic downturn. They may never have had to apply for any assistance before, and are overwhelmed with the “system” and the amount of paperwork they suddenly have to deal with.

Some are lost in the black hole of depression and desolation – and decide that’s it, and become another suicide statistic.

Stop reading for a moment and say a prayer for those souls; may their hands be paused from taking further action and may they reach out to someone for help.

Remember, risk is something we must live with every day, in everything we do. No one can guarantee our safety or wellness, not even the most respected doctors. The best any of us can do is mitigate the risk the best we can and carry on with life, and lend a helping hand to those who need it.

But please, let’s carry on with life; for ourselves, and for each other.