Politics Hasn’t Created This Division: It Rose From the Soul’s Abyss

With the political and social coherence our nation dissolving before our eyes, I naturally feel drawn to comment on the meaning of the dissolution.  Yet I’m going to reserve that chore for another day.  I think a further week of watching events unfold can’t help but leaven my observations.  I need to settle myself down.

Frankly, my nerves have lately been shattered far more by a very personal confrontation than by the very public collapse of our nation’s rule of law… though the two, it turns out, are not completely unrelated.  I received a call last Saturday night from a very close relative of mine.  I will identify her simply as S, though none of my readers is likely to know her—and it’s even less likely that she would ever read this or any other of my columns.  S was the closest person to me on earth when we were growing up.  Somewhere along the line, a lot of things changed.  Now that we’ve both passed well beyond our sixtieth birthday and are also separated by a thousand miles, we seldom speak to each other.  The gaps in time and space appear to mar transmissions.  Neither of us seems readily to understand what spiritual wavelength the other operates on.

Of course, S knows all about my round with prostate cancer this summer.  If for no other reason than that, she tries to check in with me at least once a month.  Our exchange of last Saturday night went along amicably for a while… and then, for some reason that I can’t seem to reconstruct in retrospect, the subject of the Corona Virus floated malodorously to the surface.  I believe the first mention was hers, and that my response was simply to try to soothe her—to convince her that she needn’t worry about an illness whose infection-to-fatality rate was equal to that of a bad seasonal flu.

Shots fired.  I was at once assured that I was completely wrong—that I had in no wise done research equal to S’s, whose dogged pursuit of the truth (I was told) could be matched by no one else in our family.  She knew for a fact that children were dying of COVID-19: this was a five-alarm warning to our society.  Everyone needed to be taking it with the utmost seriousness.

Fallen son of Adam that I am, I pushed back at the charge of being an ignoramus—and a bigot, to boot, who only processed information from a single source.  (Don’t know where that came from: S never bothered to ask about my sources and never volunteered any of her own.)  

I didn’t get really heated up, however, until a third person’s came into the discussion: someone who is as important to me as anyone on earth, and who I’d supposed was almost as important to S.  This young man had checked himself into the emergency room last month in an incipient suicidal state which deeply alarmed him.  The cause was, of course, the lockdown in which he and all his peers were living—are still living—day in and day out, week in and week out, in a vast Midwestern metropolis.  I observed to S that older people like us should be prepared to run a two-or-three-chances-in-a-thousand risk of death if doing so might flatten the fearful spike in young suicides.  Despair, in my opinion, was a much more formidable adversary than the flu.

Then came the response that touched a match to my powder keg.  It was the baked-in-hell blarney about how kids shouldn’t be preoccupied with their amusement when their social activity jeopardizes the lives of others.  This is what I propose to write at about some length today (perhaps because my attempts to dissect the claim in live conversation only met with being shouted over—and occasionally f-bombed: offensives which I ended up countering blow for loud, profane blow… God help us).

On the table, then, sits the propositions that you pose a menace to the lives of all around you if you circulate publicly in a normal fashion but do not strain your body almost to suffocation in an extremely abnormal fashion.  If you decline to wear a mask, that is, you are engaged in a murder attempt.

My objections to this preposterous, insane, rabidly totalitarian groupthink are basically of two classes.  To begin with the practical: respecting the claim above would bring us instantly to an absurd standstill—a train wreck of insoluble situations where life would simply have to go into a deep freeze.  Consider the following few cases which spring to mind instantly.

Most contagions are primarily spread by hand: hands are constantly touching our faces and then proceeding to door knobs, paperwork, furniture, light switches, faucets, and so on.  If we’re serious about not spreading SARS-COV2, then all of us should be required to wear gloves.  The gloves themselves, as ersatz hands, must be shucked and replaced at intervals of no more than half an hour.

Infections of most varieties are spread through travel: ergo, we should impose rigorous travel bans.  Trips should be permitted if we’re making an essential run to a nearby destination: e.g., a grocery store. Otherwise, wayfarers must be seized and punished.

We certainly shouldn’t permit people to smoke anything, whether nicotine, marijuana, or vaping compounds. We shouldn’t allow our fellow citizens to strain their lungs, because this would make them more tempting targets for respiratory infection… which, in turn, could be spread to us innocent bystanders. The same reasoning might be extended to obesity. People who are overweight tend to huff and puff, and one cough from their ample lungs… well, there you go. Potential murderers, every one!

And when it comes to jeopardizing the lives of others, why stop at the Corona Virus?  Driving itself claims around 40,000 lives each year in this nation.  We know that operation of cell phones while attempting to drive is risky behavior, and in much of the country it’s now illegal; but we also know that sustaining a conversation with someone in the passenger seat is distracting, as is attempting to manage food.  Therefore, vehicles should not be allowed to move on the road that have an occupant in the passenger seat—unless, perhaps, that person is wearing a gag; and any driver caught behind the wheel with a Big Mac or a Smoothie King should be sent to Reeducation Camp for half a year.

As practically idiotic as any program must be that aims to ensure the “health of the collective”, I’m infinitely more disturbed by the moral assumptions—the immoral presumption, I should say—behind collectivist hygiene.  The very idea that my society has the right to make me impede my airflow out of consideration for others is the most maniacally self-centered inversion of selflessness imaginable.  I exist.  You exist.  Each of us poses certain potential threats to all others around us through the mere fact of our existence.  We might misstep on an escalator with dozens of people below us.  We might swipe an incautious pedestrian starting across an intersection while we’re peering at street signs.  We might drop something that creates a sudden racket in the presence of a cardiac patient.  Human life is a constant stream of such risks.

I’m not threatening your existence because I choose to have an existence.  If I choose to sing, I’m not a threat to your life because I open my mouth and expel air.  If I choose to sit at a table and eat a meal, I’m not a threat to your life because the juices circulating on my teeth may be ejected invisibly and borne away by the wind.  If I hug a child who may go to the same kindergarten as yours, I’m not a threat to your life because an infection may be passed along from me the next school day that could eventually terminate you.

All such considerations are a selfish paranoia of unimaginable proportions.  The spiritual sickness oozing from these equations  is almost as baffling to me as it is disgusting.

Well… the phone conversation degenerated very quickly as its volume rose.  I’m not proud of having lost my control to the extent that I did; and as a matter fact, I paid the price for it this past week.  I won’t claim that I came down with a nice new case of COVID-19… but something flu-like certainly overtook me once my nerves were shattered and my resistance level bottomed out.  Headache, congested lungs, extremely painful aching in the joints, neck pain, chills, weariness, a low-grade fever… I got almost no sleep on Saturday night, and this is the condition which started overshadowing me on Sunday morning.

Just to cinch the argument—not that I’m going to phone S with an update—my duel with this baleful flu-like adversary was treated by… staying quietly at home, nursing myself, taking lots of naps, minimizing my physical activity, and sustaining a good diet.  I’m feeling immensely better as I sit here dictating this article.  I didn’t need to go to the hospital.  I didn’t need to sit in the emergency room.  I didn’t need a physician prescribing Remdesivir or Hydroxychloroquine.  I’ve had the flu before.  I treated my round of plague sensibly, and… what do you know?… within three days it had virtually disappeared.

Am I now supposed to quarantine myself for two weeks?  Why?  I wear a mask in most public settings—and the mask absolutely prevents the Corona Virus from exiting, right?  Besides, all the people around me have masks on, too, so they cannot breathe in my toxic exhalation. And since we’re both masked, everyone is doubly protected, yes?  So the world is absolutely safe from any threat that might come from my direction.  I’m so happy!  Aren’t you happy?

It’s become a bromide that politics is now destroying civility, friendships, and even family relations because we’ve grown so intransigent in our views.  We can no longer agree to differ.  Um… true and not true, I would say.  If you deny to me the freedom to take a few steps on God’s earth, enjoy God’s golden sun, and breathe God’s fresh air—if you even revile me as the author of a moral atrocity because I go down the sidewalk humming a tune—then we’re not disagreeing over whether the jogging trail should be plowed under to make a traffic bypass.  You’re not even just committing an outrage against me personally.  You’re blaspheming against Creation—you’re adoring Moloch.

I miss that little girl in those black-and-white photos, S.  I’m sorry she exists no longer.  I miss her so much!  Who did that to her?  Who kidnapped her and transformed her into what you are?

Author: nilnoviblog

I hold a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (Latin/Greek) but have not navigated academe very successfully for the past thirty years. This is owed partly to my non-PC place of origin (Texas), but probably more to my conviction--along with the ancients--that human nature is immutable, and my further conviction--along with Stoics and true Christians-- that we have a natural calling to surmount our nature. Or maybe I just don't play office politics well. I'm much looking forward to impending retirement, when I can tend to my orchards and perhaps market the secrets of Dead Ball hitting that I've excavated. No, there's nothing new (nil novi) under the sun... but what a huge amount has been forgotten, in baseball and elsewhere!

3 thoughts on “Politics Hasn’t Created This Division: It Rose From the Soul’s Abyss”

  1. Just a few words about your last post. My Mom is 89, couped up in her house with my 66 year old brother, listening to the Mainstream media, believing everything she hears about Corona, the Cornholio. I’ve tried to replace her Fear with Knowledge but calling Covid 19 a hoax stirs up an argument, so I don’t bring up the subject. Honor thy mother, by buying her food at Walmart since February. She pays me as not to be to beholden of me. She still lets me in the house without a mask or a dirty old rag. If she later on requires me to wear a mask, I’ll stop buying her food, and let my brother handle it. Have you read Dr. Vernon Coleman, From Britain, He’s a great author who literally takes Corona apart piece by piece. I’m reading his latest book Covid19, The Greatest Hoax in history, available on Amazon for $2.99. Hope your deep 500mg better. At Walmart If I wear my face Covering, I can play the game for 15 minutes and I’m out. I’d rather get my groceries then hassle with brainless managers and Cashier’s. If Biden wins, and a National mask mandate is implemented my maskless care free days at the Post office are over.

    “Semper Lux Mundi (Always the Light of the World)” wrote: > a:hover { color: red; } a { text-decoration: underline; color: #0088cc; } a.primaryactionlink:link, a.primaryactionlink:visited { background-color: #2585B2; color: #fff; } a.primaryactionlink:hover, a.primaryactionlink:active { background-color: #11729E !important; color: #fff !important; } /* @media only screen and (max-device-width: 480px) { .post { min-width: 700px !important; } } */ WordPress.com nilnoviblog posted: ” With the political and social coherence our nation dissolving before our eyes, I naturally feel drawn to comment on the meaning of the dissolution.  Yet I’m going to reserve that chore for another day.  I think a further week of watching ev”

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  2. I’m in Montgomery County MD. They’re back down to 25% indoors and no more than 10 in an outdoor group function, etc.
    I sent the following email to a group of friends. I’m sending it to you via your comments, not intending it for posting. It’s probably too long. Just wanted to share a thought that no one seems able to question. One, my lawyer friends suggested that I’m just confusing people, but conceded “I have no answers to your questions”.
    Thought you might appreciate.

    Subject: I’m just asking the question
    Fri, Oct 16
    It’s been months since our last group hug. I’ve been pondering again…

    I once again turn to my local brain trust.
    Looking for love…
    I’m 73. Like most I’ve learned to go along to get along. I wear a mask – without protest – as required, for the same reason that I wear pants even when it’s very hot. Always doing my part to preserve our fragile social fabric.
    It’s said (CDC, per statista.com, as of this morning) that 118 million have been tested and that 7.7 million cases have been reported in the U.S.
    If all U.S. residents were tested, it’s sensible to assume that the same statistical 6.5% of the larger population would also show infection. Someone will argue that testing is done within certain risk groups. Adjust the number to meet your needs.
    If, though, that is reasonable, then another 13+ million U.S. residents are currently infected and most are able to infect others; thus the mandated social distancing, mask wearing and disinfecting protocols.
    We are all at risk of encountering a known or unknown Covid infected person, unless we self-isolate or self-quarantine until all signs of the virus disappear from the general population, and the “all clear” sign is given by “the scientists”.
    Most of us, though, seem to be increasingly out-and-about, thereby consciously or unconsciously putting themselves at risk of infection.
    Who among us would not change even one thing about their current conduct if they knew – by some magical emanation or bright light – who every infected individual is on sight?
    It is assumed, is it not, that we are all infected with the Coronavirus. Why else mandate and follow the protocols?
    The infected don’t glow in the dark.
    Common sense, right? Maybe.
    You go about your day-to-day, adjusting and re-adjusting (your mask, literally) according to the news of the day or the inevitable changes in your personal situation and your mood. But, you don’t adjust in any practical way to the certain knowledge that there are any number of unknown infected routinely in close proximity to you and your family, in your social circle, your work day, in any of your routine and happenstance day-to-day human interactions; because you can’t (other than constantly adjusting your mask). You can’t know who can infect you or whether or not you might infect them, unless everyone is tested every day, and even then, as the POTUS demonstrated, that isn’t fool proof.
    If we assume, as we must – the whole purpose of the protocols – that we are all infected then how do any new infections occur within the group of dutiful protocol adherents? Someone said that 80% of new infections were to regular mask wearers. Why any?
    Some argue that it’s the scofflaw who gets or infects. How does the scofflaw infect the properly distanced and properly masked? How does the properly distanced and properly masked infect the scofflaw?
    Who would act any differently if they knew for certain that the guy sitting across the table or two chairs over or across the circle of chairs or down wind from the table up wind, or that you just passed in the grocery-store isle or that you stood between in line at CVS waiting to get your free flu shot, or in the isles of Home Depot where I am tasked too often to be, was infected… who would act any differently if they knew for certain that the stranger next to them was infected with Covid-19?
    We go into the grocery store and Home Depot knowing that it is a statistical certainty that at least one of the 40 or 50+ persons inside is infected, knowing also that we don’t know which person it is. We have to assume that everyone is infected. It’s actually more than 3 people. (6.5% of 50) We each encounter at least 3 or more infected people (statistically) each time we go into one of these stores. Those are simple numbers. It’s unavoidable, right?
    We should all be immobilized, frozen in fear, afraid to leave home. Right?
    You’re masked and 6 feet away. Does your hand reflexively check your mask as you back away from a stranger who encroaches on your 6 feet, or are you relaxed and now use to it?
    Does it make sense to be more wary and to take addition precautions in the presence of a known infection rather than when near a presumed/assumed infection? Why? What is the difference since you don’t know who is infected?
    How does it make sense to presume/assume that any stranger in your orbit is not infected? When and where can we assume that no virus is present? You can never sensibly assume no virus. Thus, the protocols. Until we get the “all clear” from “science”.
    How would any of the distancing/masking protocols make sense if we knew every infected person on sight? They wouldn’t. They’d be pointless. We’d all simply avoid the infected or place them in colonies.
    Would you simply adjust your mask and take a few extra steps away from a known infected but not from a known-unknown infected? Would you leave the room, leave your circle of friends and stay permanently away if an infected person entered your space? Do you leave every room now, when a stranger walks in? Why not? You have no idea who is infected. Thus, the protocols. If you believe that distancing and masking protects you, why the angst in the presence of a known infection? What is the difference? There is no difference. You don’t know who is infected.
    If you assume that everyone is infected, what is there to be afraid of? You’re properly distanced and masked, so what is there to be afraid of? Just put your trust in the “science”.
    I don’t hear people asking these questions.
    Seems reasonable to assume that every mentally healthy person would manifest a sudden rise, if not an explosion, of stress, likely triggering a natural flight mechanism, if told that everyone in the room just tested positive.
    Yet, we often sit comfortably in rooms and spaces and go into stores where we’re surrounded and inevitably close to countless strangers who we must assume – if we’re not insane – are all infected, since we can’t know who is or is not. Nothing that we’re doing makes any sense, otherwise.
    So, why would anyone be more anxious about being around someone they know to be infected with the virus? You distance and you mask. What is there to be afraid of? Distancing and masking work, right? Trust in the “science”.
    I doubt that most, or even many, would be perfectly comfortable with their level of compliance with the standard distancing and masking protocols or with the mandating of any such protocols, if they found themselves in the midst of a number of infected persons. They would likely seek more protection, dramatically more certainty, and more distance. They would likely depart from the infected altogether. I would.
    Who among us would willing stay in a room or stay around a group of known cases, at 6 feet and properly masked? I think that that would be stupid, unless it was my job and I were suited up properly for it. But, in order for the mandated protocols to make any sense, we all have to assume that everyone IS infected, but we all can’t always suit up for it like we’re working in a coronavirus hospital wing.
    So, what exactly are we doing? Is there a huge difference between what we’re all doing in our day-to-day and what the medical professionals administering care to the infected are doing to protect themselves?
    Little things. Remember early on that we were all asked to not use the N95s even if we had them, that we need to save those for the hospital warriors, and we should use the obviously less effective (another Duh) cloth and simple nuisance masks or paper masks.
    There wasn’t a lot of discussion about why the care givers – the heroes – should have the better masks when at the same time everyone is being told that they must assume, as a common sense practical matter, that everyone around them is infected too, or none of the protocols make any sense. Why was the disconnect almost completely ignored? That we don’t know who among us – who in the general population is or is not infected – makes us no less susceptible to infection by an infected person, than those who are doing their best to protect themselves from being infected by those that they know are infected, as part of their job.
    Was the general population being sacrificed at the beginning for the sake of the care givers? A temporary trade-off for the greater good? Or, would N95s have served us better in the general population? Or, is 6 foot distancing and the typical masks adequate to the task?
    Is the general population – those who adhere to the protocols – any more or less protected from the coronavirus then those professionals who tend to the infected every day?
    We distance, the medical professionals can’t. They super-mask and glove and suit up. If that is what is required for their protection, why aren’t we all super-masked, gloved and suited up? Are we all being manipulated – without actually being asked – in to taking a greater risk, in to making a trade-off that we wouldn’t make if we knew better?
    Are we all relying on a 6 foot distance while our care-givers rely on vastly superior layers of physical barriers, protections that are not mandated for our protection? Doctors and nurses and other hospital personnel make none of the assumptions that inform the protocols that the experts mandate for the general public; the practical assumption that everyone that we come in contact with is infected. We, again, must assume that they are all infected even though most may not be infected. But, again, that doesn’t matter and it can not matter. We do not know who is infected. The whole premise would be completely insane if we didn’t act like we were attending doctors and nurses in a Covid-19 ward.
    But, we don’t act like we’re working in a Covid-19 ward. We act like we’re pretending that we’re active in an infected population, even though we only think that some of us might be infected. Remember the late scene in the Donald Sutherland version of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers?
    We distance and we mask and we disinfect. The distancing isn’t anywhere perfect. Too many variables and unknowns. Typical masks are demonstrably less effective by design and certainly less effective as typically worn. (any smoker can do a very simple test with any of the wide variety of available and recommended masks. Install your mask as you normally do. Lift it enough to take a puff. Pull it back into place. Now blow out the held smoke. Watch this in a mirror. Play around with it. Press the mask tight around your lips and try to blow another puff of smoke out that way, etc.) We can’t distance and mask to the extent that we know that we are completely safe, or even likely safe. We assume that the protocols protect us, or we self-delude to get through the day. We have to. The other options are obvious and are rejected, for now. Otherwise we’re idiots, right? We have to assume that everyone is infected, and that distancing and masking protects us, because to assume otherwise makes us… what?
    Yet, here we are, more or less comfortable, pretending to be comfortable, or fearful with our level of compliance even when we understand the unavoidable contradiction. We demonstrate it every day. By definition we are constantly mingling with infected persons in a constantly churning population which has – something that we all know – many millions of known and unknown infected who are out-and-about among us, with new infections added every day. How can it be otherwise?
    Even in the face of this certain knowledge – that we know with certainty that we don’t know who is infected unless they know and they tell us, and we know and we tell them – we comply with these simple protocols, and we relax into them, adjusting them as mandated, as routine, as our mood strikes us, as if we are actually assuming that we’re NOT really surrounded by infected people who we would avoid if we knew who they were.
    Any of this make any sense? Am I the only one seeing this through the looking glass?
    Send me some rose-colored glasses. I swear that I will wear them whenever I put on my mask, which I do whenever I it is required.
    Here, at the end, a meme: “What if Alice didn’t fall down the rabbit hole, but jumped?”

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