I Can See Clearly Now

When I told him he said that was entirely unacceptable. “You can’t wear lenses without a fitting.” The fact that I could see with these and not with the ones that were “fitted” was not the point.

I can see clearly now, but he doesn’t care…

It happened about a year ago. A visit to the eye doctor got me to discover what I’ve been missing. My eyes have always been affected by multiple problems that are not typical for a person my age. I am farsighted. I have astigmatism. I have had to wear glasses since I was in kindergarten. It seemed like I will never see clearly without glasses again.

Still it hasn’t stopped me from trying to wear contact lenses. My first try was in college. I had limited success. Contacts have trouble with astigmatism. Then came the Astigmatic lens also known as Toric. This lens was supposed to conquer astigmatism but it was still of marginal improvement and expensive. As I got older, I developed the “older eye” problem and now I needed bifocals.

Clearly my eyewear was getting more expensive and I believe that in an effort to minimize the cost to me, my optometrist was not showing me the possible solutions. A recent change at my eyecare center has had me seeing a new doctor. This doctor is very confident. When I told him that I was having limited success with contacts…he gave me the option to try a lens made for astigmatism and multifocal. I agreed.

The “fitting” is one of the options for my optical insurance plan. It won’t pay for all of it but it does get some of it. He ordered the lens and a few weeks later it arrived and I went back in to pick them up. The whole process was fouled up when the intake person treated me as a regular checkup person and numbed my eyes. Even with glasses, my world was a blur. I couldn’t put the contacts in my eyes because the feeling wasn’t there. I couldn’t tell whether my vision was improved because my world was a blur. It was at this moment that the doctor went from confident to arrogant as he and the assistant were dismissive of my feelings and my condition as they assured me that this would wear off in a matter of minutes. An hour later, I took my sample lenses and went on my way.

During the week, I had limited success but with my experience with other lenses, I figured that I would get used to it. He ordered the lenses and used up the rest of my insurance. As the week went by, I sought out some other pricing on the lenses on the Internet and found my brand and several others as well. I found a national brand that used to be the one name in contact lenses. I figured that they would be the most expensive. They weren’t. Since he sent me with measurements as well, I plugged in his numbers into the new brand. When they arrived…wow! I can see clearly now!! Also, they went in and out so easily and I could wear them for about 8 to 10 hours a day. The ones that were “fitted” were of no value whatsoever and have never touched my eyes again. (Sometimes, I didn’t know that they were there because they were huge and the edges disappeared and I would be digging at my cornea to access them.)

Fast forward about a year. I got the message from my eye doctor that it was time for my annual eye checkup. (Doctor speak for annual insurance money for the taking.) I hemmed and hawed privately about this…but I certainly wanted to let the doctor know that he was the one who turned me on to this lens technology and were it not for the fitting snafu…I never would have discovered the lenses that I have now.

When I told him he said that was entirely unacceptable. “You can’t wear lenses without a fitting.” The fact that I could see with these and not with the ones that were “fitted” was not the point. When he stated, “I don’t make the rules, I just have to follow them,” I then determined that I fall in 3rd or 4th place when it comes to my health.

Here is my perceived order of priority.

  1. Insurance Company
    • Optical Insurance comes almost exclusively with a group plan. Here, the company gets an enormous amount of money that the consumer doesn’t see so that they can be “placated” by perceived benefits.
  2. Vision Correction Vendor
    • This is the limited amount of vendors allowed to offer products through a particular doctor or group plan. The prices for these items are fixed at a significantly higher rate than what you can find online.
  3. The Optometry Practice
    • Every January, I get the important notification that my vision is important and needs to be monitored. When I get in I am run through a series of tests by persons in blue medical scrubs using machines. Their repetitive practice to these processes is what ultimately led to my “useless fitting” last year as a quick question to the patient as to “why are you here?” would have stopped the problem from happening.
  4. The Patient (Me)

My vision insurance has their own “in house” supplier of eyewear and contact lenses. My brand was not on the list. (It wasn’t on the optometrist list either as I heard him tell his administrator who orders and schedules the fittings that it would not be found on the drop down list.) SHOCKER. This “company store” scenario allows them to take the brand that could be shopped for best price and build in extra cost so there wouldn’t be an insurance loss to them.

Insurance companies should be there to stop you from having a devastating financial event linked to a medical issue. Instead, they charge huge amounts of money and placate us with these “perceived” benefits and then rope in the very institutions that are supposed to be there for the patient but grind all the money that they can from our little placations.

When I had my trouble last year, I decided that my “new patient” experiences would be a me first and it has worked well as I have had several instances where I have had success.

  • 7/1 Ganglion Cyst. Great Podiatrist. We planned the remedy together. Reworked my whole supplementation plan that day.
  • 11/13 Broken Arm. Great Orthopedists. They listened to me and told me to decide if follow up appointments were necessary. (They weren’t)
  • 3/29 Cardiologist for preventative concern. Family history and reading had me concerned about Calcium buildup in my arteries. I sought out a Cardiologist and he ordered a scan that I had read about and is often not covered by insurance…surprise surprise. Amazingly, the test happened yesterday and the results came in as I am typing this. Now we, my doctor and me, can move forward in developing a plan to take care of this before it becomes a problem.
  • 4/12 Optomotrist. Looks like he might have to go.

AI Insipiration

But personal initiative is not just about individual success. It is also about contributing to the greater good. It is about recognizing that we are all part of a larger community, and that our actions can have a ripple effect that extends far beyond ourselves.

I was born in 1962. I was far too young to be personally affected by John F. Kennedy. I have heard many of his speeches on video. Sometimes you just need to be exposed to them on a personal level. I have been playing with ChatGPT and here is my response I got when I asked for a speech on personal initiative in the style of John F. Kennedy. Enjoy!

My fellow citizens,

Let me begin by saying that our success as a nation depends not only on the actions of our government, but also on the actions of each and every one of us as individuals. It is through personal initiative that we can create a better future for ourselves, our communities, and our nation.

As I look out upon this great country, I see a nation of individuals who are capable of great things. I see people who are willing to work hard, to take risks, and to pursue their dreams with passion and determination. But I also see individuals who are afraid to take the first step, who doubt their own abilities, and who feel trapped by circumstances beyond their control.

To those individuals, I say this: do not let fear hold you back. Do not wait for someone else to take the lead. You have the power to make a difference in your own life and in the lives of others. You have the power to create change.

Personal initiative is not just about taking action, it is about taking responsibility. It is about recognizing that you have the power to shape your own destiny, and that your actions can have a positive impact on the world around you. It is about setting goals, making plans, and taking steps towards achieving those goals.

But personal initiative is not just about individual success. It is also about contributing to the greater good. It is about recognizing that we are all part of a larger community, and that our actions can have a ripple effect that extends far beyond ourselves.

So I urge you, my fellow citizens, to embrace your personal initiative. Take the first step towards your dreams, no matter how small that step may be. Believe in yourself and your abilities. And most importantly, remember that you are not alone. We are all in this together, and by working together, we can create a brighter future for ourselves and for generations to come.

Thank you, and God bless America.

An Honest Thief

How they make their living…

In the middle of August, I began my cross country trip to visit NJ and see my family. I was also visiting during the local stop of Dear Evan Hansen so I was able to see my son for a few days as well. My car, one that was just purchased at lease end, seemed to be the focus of a lot of my trip. Hub caps popping on and off and the changing cost of gas at each stop made for an interesting narrative. Sadly, the worst was saved for my last day in San Francisco. I moved my car from the expensive ($35) parking lot to the free meter for the final day. On Sunday, the meters do not run and the parking is free. Ah…but as the saying goes…there’s no free ride…or in this case park.

I was alerted to this possibility by the daytime clerk at the desk of the Grant Hotel. The night clerk recommended against it. He said that the neighborhood was not good…even in the day. Also, parking spaces may not be available when I want them. I told him that I arrived at 5:30AM the previous day…I would be able to find a spot. Having heard him talk about the access to parking…I decided to move my car at 2:30AM. There were still people wide awake and milling about. The spot I got was right in front of the door of the Golden Gate Hotel which was right next door.

I went in and within the hour, I was to be robbed. I wouldn’t know it until the next morning. I did not heed the warnings. I tried to save $35 and now it will cost me hundreds. All of those trite sayings were popping into my head. Sayings like, “pennywise and pound foolish” or “better safe than sorry”. Still, I take no blame for the crime. I am not the criminal. Yet, the criminal(s)…they had the reputation.

The way they approached their crime was in a very businesslike way. They assessed the risk, they worked in tandem, they knew their target, they were in and out in about 15 seconds. They got a very nice suitcase full of…dirty underwear and a couple pair of shoes. It was not the score that they had hoped for but the crime was low risk. Breaking a window doesn’t trigger an alarm like opening the door without a key. The car was silent all night.

Since they can’t make a decent living off of dirty underwear…I am sure that I was not their only target of the night. It does make me wonder…what if? What if they used their skills to help people instead of hurt them? What if they looked for real opportunities to contribute instead of being opportunists? What if someone had cared enough to get between them and the bad decisions that have now come to define their lives?

Parents, teachers, friends, and extended family have to be much more involved in the lives of young people before they make enough bad choices to end up here working the night shift.

Should the 2nd Amendment be repealed?

if the NRA put as much money into creating facilities and strategies for these law abiding citizens to safely own and shoot these weapons as they do in buying congressional votes, maybe everyone could be made happy and even a new cottage industry could be born.

My Opinion–No–I am just going to put it out there.  My opinion is an emphatic NO.  This is my opinion.

When this country was founded over 200 years ago, after the Constitution was written, Congress saw fit to add to it 10 Amendments on December 15, 1791.  That was a mere 15 years after the Congress took the bold step of Declaring its Independence from a tyrannical government from overseas.  These 10 amendments, The Bill of Rights, as it became known, were articulated on paper and made known to the world.  These rights were the ones that were regularly tread on by the mother country leading to both colonization and then ultimately forming the American Nation.

Flash forward 200 years or so…

Retired Supreme Court Justice, John Paul Stevens suggests that the 2nd amendment be repealed.  His reasoning is articulated in line with one of two schools of thought regarding the Constitution.  Is the Constitution to be taken literally for all time, or is it a living document that must adjust with the times?  Well, if you carry a constitution with you and you can read, you should be able to decide for yourselves…but you can’t…(more later on that).

I, for one, have carried a copy with me for my entire teaching career.  I have focused on one particular amendment in the Bill of Rights and that is why I always had it handy…not so I could say…”see, I told you”…but to provoke thought.  Just for fun…lets provoke a little thought.

I like Law and Order…not the concept although I like that too.  It’s the TV Show.  I love it when Jack McCoy and the defense attorney’s tussle over things that relate to the rights of the accused.  You hear a lot about search and seizure (4), witness against oneself (5), and right to a speedy trial(6).  You hardly ever hear of a jury being empaneled for a small claims action even though they are universally for more than $20 and the 7th amendment should be enforced.  It is specific.  Amendment 3 has not been violated too much in my lifetime, but it stands to reason that it could be.

If the 2nd amendment should be repealed, shouldn’t these others also be considered.  And what about the 1st Amendment.

I have been a music teacher all of my life.  I have always struggled with the ideal delivery of a vocal music education which included works of the masters with no consideration for the fact that it may have a “sacred text”.  Students and parents, however, were sometimes surprised to see this music being performed in a public school.  Sometimes, there would be complaints, controversy, and yes, even lawsuits.  They cried “separation of church and state”, which is not in the 1st amendment, not a title to the 1st amendment, but used as a metaphor relating to the actual text of the 1st amendment and articulated by James Madison.  That became the de facto title, then a rallying cry and then it was put into the hands of great thinkers…The Supreme Court of the United States.  These guys and gals if I may be so politically incorrect should always get it right…then why is it not unanimous?  The truth is that they all suffer from the affliction of bias and that is an affliction of humanity.

The history of my bias (aka confirmation bias)

I was born in Philadelphia PA.  I moved with my family at the age of 5 to Marlton, NJ where I attended public school until I was 18.  I went to college at TSC met my wife and became a music teacher and taught for 26 years in the public schools of NJ.  I never hunted.  I never knew crime.  I had no connection with guns.  My family, particularly my mom put the fear of God into me with relation to guns.

I was also bullied mercilessly from grade 6 through grade 12.  I lived in constant fear that I was going to be beaten up or even killed from people who now to this very day I consider the excrement of the world.  As a teacher, when I saw bullying, I went into such an internal rage that my clothing was soaked in sweat and I literally had the shakes.  I confronted the bully and made sure that they knew I wouldn’t tolerate it.

In school as a student, it was fear.  Shaking quivering fear.  As a teacher…it was rage.  Oh, did I mention the lack of gun thing?  Yes.  I’m sure I did.  In school, as a student, if I had access to a gun, I probably wouldn’t have done anything since fear…of literally everything ran my life.  What about rage?  How about rage?  I just don’t know. Who does?

This is my story.  This is my position of bias.  When facing the issue of guns, it could very easily be a confirmation bias.  Confirmation bias is when you consider only those points that seem to confirm your position that you have already decided on a particular issue.  There are other points of view and other “evidences” but they are dismissed because they don’t fit our point of view.  I do it.  You do it.  SCOTUS does it.  So, what can we do?  We acknowledge that we have biases and attempt to think beyond the biases.

Here are my thoughts.

The 2nd Amendment, the entire Bill of Rights in fact, should be left alone.  The Bill of Rights is in our DNA.  It has many little brothers and sisters in Medicine (Patients Bill of Rights), Air Travel (Passengers Bill of Rights), and I am sure many others currently around or in the future.  The repeal of the 2nd amendment will have very little effect on guns since 44 states have this right in their own constitution.  Besides, we wouldn’t have a nation if the 2nd amendment wasn’t there and ascribed to because in 1812, Britain tried to take back the treasonous colonies while we were still yet in a colonial period.  We owe a lot to the 2nd amendment.  We owe a lot to gun owners.  That leaves us with an enormous problem.  If we attempt to regulate guns, how do we do it? (Of course, I mean all of us in we…both sides of the issue.)

In colonial times, the gun was used to protect the home.  This need still exists today.  People could come into our homes to rob us or harm us and we see this on the news everyday.  If you live in certain neighborhoods, you may need that protection at home.  Females in fear of attackers who choose to protect themselves with a gun should be allowed to qualify for a carry permit.

Hunting and shooting clay pigeons are sports and activities that have been around for years.  Taking these guns is just plain silly.

Weapons of war, where the likelihood of collateral damage is great when the weapon is discharged, is another story altogether.  How many times have we seen policemen “empty a clip” on an unarmed person because they ran or hid in the shadows?  Even in the right hands, we’ve seen deadly consequences.  People who think, really think, know that something has to be done…but what?  What is the right answer?  In light of the fact that there are groups that are so fringe that they are an enemy militia being bread in our midst…along with, and no I don’t understand the love of this shooting…but honest law abiding individuals who own and want to shoot their automatic weapons.

Checking my bias as much as I can, I say that if the NRA put as much money into creating facilities and strategies for these law abiding citizens to safely own and shoot these weapons as they do in buying congressional votes, maybe everyone could be made happy and even a new cottage industry could be born.  I mean if there was a way to own your big gun and keep it where you can shoot it and enjoy it among like minded people, then you are similar to my neighbor who has a boat bigger than my house who has to sacrifice his fun when it’s not in the water because it just doesn’t go fast out of the water.

If lawmakers stopped being owned by the gun companies then they could spend some serious time “thinking” and identifying those weapons that should be kept out of the civilian households and tightened up interstate controls instead of trying to trip up the public with their stupid questions about details of “what is an automatic weapon”?, then maybe we would make progress.

If the general public weren’t so afraid to confront the issue and attempt to set aside their own biases even for a short period of time, they would be less likely to be led down the garden path from extremists on both sides and start a real dialog.  It is much easier to scroll…and share…and not give it a second thought. 

On December 14, 2012, there were two major school attacks in the news. One was here in the United States at Sandy Hook Elementary School where 26 people were killed including 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7. The other in Chenpeng Village Primary School in Henan province, China. At this school, 22 students were attacked with a large knife. No one died.

It’s been 10 years since then. The 2nd Amendment of the Constitution of the United States admonishes the law makers to regulate the “rights of the people to keep and bear arms.” It’s time to start regulating.

Schools Need to Vaccinate Everyone

You can do all of this and create the safest “system and physical plan,” but you cannot instill the self discipline in younger children that will make those plans and protocols work.

For years, the people writing the regulations for schools have been so disconnected from the reality of education that they have created the dismal failure that exists in our schools. This only really hurts the students…and what do they know? They have to do what they are told…right? Right? Right!!!! Every teacher knows the answer to this question and now so do some parents who have been observant. The answer to that question is NO.

The pandemic and distance learning have shown clearly that we have a large number of students being left out because of lack of technology but also the lack of supervision. Sending your child to school means that you can put the teacher in charge of “keeping your child in line” in addition to teaching the child the academics mandated by the State. If you have observed a ZOOM class online you can see that many students are misbehaving during their classes in front of their computers or checking out completely. There is no intervention by the adult physically in the room.

You can quote the CDC all you want. You can have the President say it is so. You can have the doctors agree on protocols. You can do all of this and create the safest “system and physical plan,” but you cannot instill the self discipline in younger children that will make those plans and protocols work. Every teacher knows this and now many parents do as well. Those parents are demanding to remain online until there is a vaccine . Which parents do you think will demand to have their children in school? Yes, the ones with very little self discipline or any discipline at home.

Teachers are in the high risk group. The age of a teacher could be 22 or 62 or somewhere in between and comorbidities increase with age. How do you know? The truth is…you don’t. There are immunization requirements before a person starts school for diseases that have all but been eradicated. We have a killer disease in our midst and vaccines that are becoming available more and more. Why the rush? Yes, it has been tough. Yes, you are tired but the idea that one year of this type of education will “do irreparable damage” to kids is ludicrous.

If you wanted to go to school to teach or to learn you would have to get a TB test. In 2019, 1.4 million people died of TB. In 2020, over 2.4 million people died of COVID 19. Both diseases are respiratory in that they are transmitted through the air on water droplets. TB is bacterial, has an ineffective vaccine, and is monitored by employment testing all over. COVID is a virus that has many promising vaccines but is behind the intervention curve in both diagnosis and immunizations. Why the rush? Putting people back into school even part time will not do anything to improve academics and will slow the real progress of getting a normal opening for the next academic year.

The rhetoric coming from Washington even in this new administration is very Trumpesque. It is not unusual for any administration to legislate schools into institutional obsolescence whether Republican or Democrat. It is unconscionable to politicize the profession to risk the very people we need to overcome the administrative stupidity that emanates from government at all levels for the sake of votes or feeling good. Lawmakers…it’s time for you to put on your Big Boy Pants and defend common sense.

Do Unto Others

When I returned to California and I tried to resume my normal bicycling routine, I found that it was difficult to do the long rides up the mountain. It was colder and I was getting up later and later and there was a little more daylight. I started seeing more things of interest. One day, I rode past an iPhone just sitting in the bicycle lane. It was undamaged. Later that week, along the same area, I found a phone directory complete with websites and passwords. Finally, a month later, I was on a morning bike ride and I found a wallet complete with cash and an id.

I found a way to return all of these items to their rightful owners. I did it, knowing the panic that I would have been experiencing if I had lost these same items. I felt pretty good about what I did, but since one of the items were tossed from a stolen car, it reminded me that there are still evil opportunists out there and we must be careful.

I took a long bike ride the other day. I wanted to pick up donuts at the local Krispey Kreme. That is a short ride of 11 miles and I also wanted to go to a sporting goods store. When I go with shopping in mind, I clip on my trusty panier bags to the rear rack of my bicycle. After my last purchase, I turned for home. A 45 minute ride. When I arrived at home, I realized that one of my trusty paniers was missing. It was then that I felt that panic that I referenced.

Inside that bag was my wallet, my iPhone, my Bose Wireless Headphones and my action camera and charger. Actually, my whole life was now missing. I grabbed my Android phone and my wife and my car keys and headed out the door. Fortunately, I had a a tracker in my wallet and it was linked to my Android phone. I knew where my bag had fallen off of my bike and it was 8 miles away. I also know the bump that I hit. It was a stressful ride but that bag sat on the corner of the sidewalk untouched for over an hour.

When I settled down, I started thinking. No cash was taken from my wallet. My biggest concern is that there are a lot of homeless people who scavenge for whatever they can on the sides of the road. Nothing was touched. The phone, the earbuds, the charging case all had value and could be sold. I still have them. I feel relieved. I also feel that maybe I was being rewarded for my selfless actions from the previous weeks. Maybe…but maybe it was a wakeup call.

I recommend the trackers for your wallets. I also had my location available on my iPhone and if we thought of that, my wife could have tracked my iPhone as well, but at that time, I wasn’t aware that my iPhone was also in that bag. Furthermore, I will keep my wallet and small valuables in a string bag attached to my back instead of paniers which do have a tendency to detach when the road gets really rough. After some thought and reflection…I will keep my eye out for opportunities.

Missed Opportunity

One day before this happened, I was biking in Indio to another donut shop. (I have a problem with donuts). Well, when I left, I rode past a Starbucks where a girl sat tearing through a newspaper. She was clearly messed up and the newspaper littered the entire stoop. Concerned employees came out and chased her off. When I rode past she was hiding her face behind the paper and peaked over the top and said hello. I just rode on. I can’t help feeling that I missed an opportunity to improve someone’s life or outlook with just a cup of coffee or breakfast or anything. My near loss and my concern that a person in need might take something of mine has really gotten me to rethink that situation. Next time, when the opportunity presents itself, I will make the effort.

Christians for Trump

Jesus was asked by an expert on the law, “What is the greatest commandment in the Law?” He responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. The second is like it: ‘Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The sign planted at the exit of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi

Advance thousands of years from this declaration of Christ himself and we find ourselves hopelessly confused. As a free nation we test our own laws based on a constitution…or so we did. In this one response, Jesus gave us a test. All the Law and the Prophets hang or come under these two.

This is the account from the book of Matthew and I wonder if Christians actually give this a second thought. In Luke, there is further clarification when the expert in the law wanted “clarification” as to “who is my neighbor.” I won’t insult your intelligence any further by rewriting the parable of The Good Samaritan here, but given it’s specific references to a “hated foreign enemy” the context for my concern lies here.

Our country may have been established by Christians but we are not a Christian nation. We are a free nation. We have our rights outlined in our constitution but we are not a theocracy and this comes not just from our constitution but from Christ. When he was once again being tested by the Pharisees tried to trap him again with the question of is it right to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus said, “…give Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.

We, as Christians are separate from the world, in the world but not of the world and we should not seek to rule the world. When we align politically as a group, we call into question our own spiritual health. Politicians are imperfect. Leaders will fail. We may be disappointed.

But when we are faced with a leader or a potential leader who claims to love God but preaches hate, violence and bigotry, lies to the point of recklessly killing hundreds of thousands of people, announces that he is God’s chosen one, all while stealing from the poor and lining the pockets of the rich and mocking every decent acceptable behavioral norm in modern day society, and “Christians” plant signs at the entrance of their church emblazoned “Christians for Trump”…they have identified with the very antithesis of Christ.

Christians who are offended by my stance would do well to prayerfully read Matthew 23 and reflect upon their own beliefs and actions and how it may affect believers yet to find salvation. As for me, I am deeply saddened by the fact that people I believed were true believers in Christ have traded truth for lies, love for hate, and integrity for arrogance.

Respectfully,

Michael
A sinner saved by grace

Freedom is Painful

This nation could not start without a unanimous vote of the colonies. Through days of debate, it became clear that the southern colonies would prevent independence unless the mention of the slave trade was removed from the document.

The Cast of 1776 from The Ritz Theatre in Oaklyn, NJ in August 2003.

There is an awful lot of debate now, particularly in the recent weeks that deal with the ongoing hate and prejudice surrounding men and women of color. There is a desire to expose our painful past and remove any public link to any degree of pride with some of the characters that have been involved with past events. Some, I dare say most, are justified. While protesting today’s injustices we must try to keep some kind of perspective. This nation had a painful birth. It was in the name of freedom from England’s tyranny that we sought to have a separation from them as a governing body. At the same time, we had a massive contradiction when talking about oppression but having a practice of enslaving human beings.

When Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, he examined his own practices and conscience and intended to have this document indict the King of England for creating this practice and seeking to have it ended with the Independence of the United States. This nation could not start without a unanimous vote of the colonies. Through days of debate, it became clear that the southern colonies would prevent independence unless the mention of the slave trade was removed from the document. In the interest of the unanimous vote, the passage was removed.

Independence Hall with the “mythical” scoreboard that kept the audience aware of the score.

“The right to be free comes from nature.” This quote was from Thomas Jefferson. Ben Franklin encouraged Jefferson to leave out the entire passage relating to slavery for the sake of the vote to pass. Samuel Adams said to Ben Franklin, “If we give in on this issue, there will be trouble a hundred years hence; posterity will never forgive us.”

In 2003, I was in a play called 1776. This play and movie chronicle the proposal, debate and finally approval of American Independence. It was a painful process. No country had ever broken off from the mother country before. The quotes listed above were in the play but since Sam Adams was not the main character of the play, the line was given to John Adams character and shortened leaving out the “hundred years hence” line because the authors believed that it would be too unbelievable because it actually happened.

Now here we are…over 200 years hence. We are now “posterity”. We are trying to decide whether to “forgive” the founding fathers. George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson have been vilified over recent days because they are now being identified as being in favor of slavery. They were living in a time when it was already part of a “way of life”. If they never debated it in the process of becoming a “free” nation, then I would agree that they needed to be judged a little harsher. They also became traitors to England, a crime punishable by death, in order to become a new nation. They were brave, honorable and yes, they risked the judgement of “posterity” by compromising their ideals for the sake of starting a new nation.

Statues of confederate soldiers and leaders that fought to continue the practice of slavery should be removed. Hate and prejudice will remain but as a nation we need to condemn the painful time. We have to acknowledge that as a nation worthy of the name United States, we have to come together. Our history is our history.

Turner Classic Movies will be running the movie version of 1776 starring William Daniels on Saturday. Maybe we should encourage everyone to watch it. Aside from the songs, which probably didn’t happen, this depicts what actually happened. It may give a new perspective to those who would want to demonize all of our founding fathers without putting this into context.

It’s Going Viral

If we all locked down and really did what we were told by medical professionals, we’d be looking at this in the thing rear view mirror.

This is an all too common phrase. When we see a YouTube video that we like or some other video or post and we share it, it is said to go viral. The term comes from the medical world where a virus spreads from person to person because it is transmitted or “shared” with that person. That is why households get sick, places of work get sick and it goes from place to place. We seem to be comfortable with the term when describing the Internet experience but it gets clouded when you bring it back to medicine and that is where the viral experience becomes deadly.

Medical professionals have told us that it is a virus. They have categorized it as such and understand it as such, but the disease that it causes is new and it is attacking old and young alike in many different ways. In order for it to be treated we have to deal with it for a much longer time and experiment and we are going to lose a lot of people that way. In order to prevent it, we have to find a way to trigger an immune response to the virus. This also takes time and is unique to this new virus. Medicine has only one absolute. Remove the host and the virus will die.

If we all locked down and really did what we were told by medical professionals, we’d be looking at this in the thing rear view mirror. It would have taken about a month of serious lock down and we’d be back to “near normal”. Instead, we are on the path to real devastation. This is because we have another viral load to deal with…deniers…led by the denier in chief.

He said in January it would go away and has been saying it ever since. Now, what could have been a one month shutdown if it where handled as a national emergency has no end in sight and his narrative hasn’t changed. “It will go away”, he says. In spite of all that he has said that hasn’t come true, people are believing him…and they go about like there is no threat at all. They also do something far worse. They “share” their opinion and others follow suit. The idea goes viral and so does the virus.

A Seismic Change

Yesterday I was watching a special extended news program regarding the local response to the COVID-19 outbreak. During the news broadcast there was a sudden boom and shaking of my chair, violent shaking that lasted for about 5 seconds. The government put the seismic measurement at 4.9. The news had already gone to commercial but was cut back immediately to the local anchor who was knocked off his game. He was clearly shaken up and for the rest of the broadcast there was a trembling in his voice as the tremors continued.

Just two days ago I had been hiking in the mountains very close to the center of the quake. I remember thinking to myself that just one misstep could kill me or seriously injure me. I also thought about and earthquake. The ground was rock solid. There was nothing but rock. This was unthinkable. Imagine the power to move all of this rock.

There are protocols for what happens in a quake. Emergency vehicles have to exit their structures so that they are not trapped in the event of a collapse. Local law enforcement is put on high alert and now, our cell phones send out the emergency message. Everyone knows what to do but it doesn’t make it any easier. The very ground we live on, the literal foundation of our lives has become unreliable.

This is what we, as a society are facing right now. All of the things that we held dear are now unreliable. Our jobs, our schools, and certainly our government officials have become as unstable as the ground was last night. We want to have back what we have lost. At this point, we have been so shocked at the speed that it has vanished that we miss our opportunities.

We now have the opportunity to rethink a lot of things. We can re-imagine our lives. In the war against a killer virus, we have all become foot soldiers in the battle against the pandemic. We are driving our cars less and the air is beginning to clear around our urban centers. Gas prices have come down and this could contribute to lower costs of moving goods and services around. Our ability to work from our homes has made the highways less crowded. We have all had to embrace technology just to continue to survive.

On a Hike with Mike

I have seen far too many people focus on the negative aspects of this “crisis”. I choose to look at the situation with a different perspective. I choose to consider things that I never would have considered before. I refuse to take a bias against anything as we are in a new world. The ground has moved. It may knock me down but I will get up. If the path is gone, I will make a new one. I will be a better person in the end.