To the Editor:
I see these folks protesting, yelling and carrying weapons, as if a gun is an argument that trumps all else. I want to ask them what they are afraid of since volume and bravado are usually signs of fear. But, we live in a time of fear, a time when reasons and a search for truth are cast aside by dogmatism and belief in belief.
There is a favorite truism of some of these folks: You have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything. I think they don’t know how close they are to the truth and yet how very far away. If the thing you stand upon is a crumbling wobbly foundation then surely you will fall …. for everything.
My brother is a doctor, a pathologist. He is a man of science. He is not an alarmist. He does not speculate. When presented with a problem, he inhales the available literature in an honest attempt to advance his understanding. He understands that science is a continuing inquiry, a continuing search for facts. There are questions that science cannot answer. There are truths beyond the realm of science. But, there are facts derived by science that exist whether we believe them or not.
He wrote the following in an e-mail:
“In the matter of isolation: I actually think that we are entering the period when staying up on the mountain is more and more prudent. It is just a matter of mathematics; there are now a million or more known cumulative cases of Covid in the U.S. There have been studies done in New York (based on antibody testing, to demonstrate virus exposure in the past) suggesting that with the limited virus and testing that has been done in real time to find cases, there has been an underestimation of as much as 10:1 of the numbers of actually exposed infected people. Thus 1 million known infections translates to 10 million probable real infections, which is to say the 1 million known ones and the 9 million that were asymptomatic, had mild or atypical symptoms, or had real disease but never made it to hospital and either recovered or died without fanfare. It can be assumed that this bug is now circulating freely through the entire U.S. population and if the various troglodytes decide to allow things to reopen in the current state of the epidemic in the U.S. there will not only be a further major fiasco …”
The second clause of his final sentence was related to our personal discussion. I am in my late 60s and have a spate of auto-immune diseases that require regular infusions of biologics. That puts me at very high risk. Fortunately, I live on a mountain in rather isolated conditions. My brother was cautioning me on the necessity of maintaining that isolation.
We were discussing the very real possibility that we would not see each other again or see our mother or an uncle who we are close to. My mother is in her 90s. My uncle is just turning 80. Both have health issues which make them even further at risk. My brother lives in Canada so crossing the border to see either of them or me involves both risk and logistical problems.
Besides those family members I think of my friend Nelda. She is soon to be 76 and lives in Raleigh now. We became acquainted when she was my editor at the Mountain Xpress. Our relationship became much more than that. She is my emotional partner, the person in this world I truly love.
The idea that I may never see her in person again is devastating; made even worse by the prospect that the loss would extend to her two beautiful granddaughters. They call me Uncle Maniac and offer a light I never thought I would see since I never had children of my own.
Maybe this all sounds very melodramatic and maudlin, but I have every reason to want to not believe this virus is dangerous. The losses I face have nothing to do with money. They could be permanent, irreparable, without any hope of recovery or reconciliation. I do not relish the consequences of this enforced isolation. I do not want to accept the emotional, social, and, yes, economic devastation that this has wrought. But anger, ignoring facts and data, or concocting conspiracy theories accompanied by accusations of ulterior motivations won’t change the basic science and its implications.
Your AR-15 cannot shoot the virus or make it run away. Yelling incoherent slogans about freedom will not confer immunity. Denial, wishing for magic cures, or whistling past the graveyard with false bravado will accomplish nothing other than to make this much harder. Fear, misplaced belief, and anger will kill you with the same finality as any bullet.
Patience, steadiness, reliance on facts, and perhaps most of all basic human kindness, decency, and concern for each other are our most potent weapons.