Thursday, May 21, 2020

We Are Better Than...

the long view

      Watching the world is easy out here, close to the edge of the planet. 
      In full disclosure, we're in a retired herd, and free ranging between the poles of Los Angeles and San Francisco. As we watch the world shut down and try to get back to normal, we see things others may not and there are reasons for that.
     The wide open space out here, gives us room to think and time to ponder. Population is sparse, the sky is big and there is room to put things into perspective.
     A lot of us "have been there, done that," doers, players, even power players and movers and shakers from a time before Trump and time before the virus. Experience matters.
     When I broke into a big city newsroom in the late 60's, my mentor was an old newspaperman in his 70's. He'd seen it all. 
     "You'll see everything," he said. "Like the good book says, 'nothing new under the sun' just different names."
    I wrote about Bob Hoover in a September 29, 2016 post that you can link to here. Born in 1898 Bob lived through the Spanish Influenza pandemic. He was a musician at the time and became a reporter in 1918. Bob said it was good to listen, especially to the old people, because they had seen and done a lot and had survived. 
    I listened to Bob. There was a time when the culture listened to and even revered "old people." Not sure that is so anymore.
    If you scratch hard enough at the drive to "reopen" the economy, you will find an element that places economic recovery as a higher priority than the well being of those who are most vulnerable; geezers, gray panthers, boomers, old people, seniors, whatever we're called and those with health issues, not all of whom are aged. I suspect it is more an unintended consequence than a malicious act, although there is a lot of "OK Boomer" these days.
     It probably cannot be avoided. Economic collapse does severe harm and we must be about making repairs. If we had been led by a fit, qualified, experienced leader, we would have been better prepared, more proactive and could have moved to isolate the most vulnerable, prevent overwhelming hospitals and still maintain some work and commerce. It is too late for that now and in some of the clamor to reopen there has been a strain of something dangerous.  
     Before we wade into that, we pause for a moment at San Simeon Creek, babbling its way to the Pacific. The visual rhythm of a mountain stream is refreshing. 

masks are about health and safety
    The decision to wear a mask, or not, is about health and safety. Masks, social distancing, and isolating at home helped California and other places avoid over loading hospitals as happened in Italy, New York, New Jersey and elsewhere.
     In a twisted and sad way, some try to make mask wearing, or not, a political statement. That is wrong headed and indicative of the toxic and divisive nature of Trump leadership. Masks protect. Everyone!
     Trump supporters are mob thinkers, easily led, blindly loyal, neither encumbered with nuance, nor bothered by efforts at reason. They don't need facts, their leader will tell them what is fake. 
      The leader is arguably the most aggressive liar in history. He takes an unapproved medicine and many follow suit. He does not deign to wear a mask and they've made that a battle line. They are fools, following a fool and they are with in their rights. That's how it works.
      A friend from college days, a successful attorney and historic litigator wrote from his mountain home back east-
     "This Trump stuff is crazy beyond words. The right wingers who won't stay at home and won't wear masks I hope become infected. Since natural selection is the driving engine of evolution, maybe it will all work out and they will be eliminated from the gene pool."
      He went on to say he hopes they hold their convention where they will be self corralled and infecting each other."
     He was never one to mince words.
follow the leader

 Life teaches. A good leader is always ready to reach down and lend a hand, especially when you are in deep
and struggling.

we need a cure
   We are better than who we have been in the last four years. The US needs a cure. The US needs a vaccine to prevent a second wave of Trumpism. It is a malicious, selfish, divisive, corrupt, fascistic and unAmerican movement that is a virus in the body politic. It is a government of fraud and failure with blood on its hands. Ignorance is the currency and loyalty to a sick man is the tool of survival.
    Firing 4 Inspectors General in just weeks is evidence of a dangerous mindset and a threat to the structure of the United States government.  It is a move by a would be dictator to obstruct constitutional balance of power. He want's unchecked, unchallenged power and that cannot be allowed. 
   It is fitting that in years and decades hence the Trump years will be known as the years of the Virus. As terrible as he is, as historically failed as he has been, he will play second banana to a virus. Covid-19 gets top billing. A century later, Trump may be only an asterisk. 
    By now the only thing that might change that is if he were to set his hair on fire on Fifth Avenue. No one would stop him. At least no one in a mask.
for the mask wearers of the world
the Diane rose
from a Cambria magic garden

      John Chancellor, the late NBC journalist said "being a reporter is like being a fire horse, you always want to answer the bell." 
       All of those years of assignments and deadlines have driven how I have attacked and consumed information, data, reporting and science over these last weeks. I've been keen to watch how governors, communities, medical groups and others have reacted. 
       The virus and the shutdown has revealed how fractured we are. Singularly it exposes how broken this version of capitalism is, and how wealth distribution is abusively wrong and incomprehensibly unfair. 
        We are better than this. The notions of fairness, equality, compassion, and greatness have been in us historically. It is time to be guided by better angels, those same angels Abraham Lincoln invoked in his first inaugural

   "We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it, must not break out bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." 

     See you down the trail.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Cover Up---Open Up---What's Up---Rise Up

warp speed
the mascot of the US testing program

   And now we are to understand we've become further divided. Wearing masks, or not. Opening up, even beyond recommendations or not. 
    I've drawn my line in the sand. This virus will not end, we must learn to live with it, wisely. 
    Until and if there is a vaccine or treatment we must pursue testing and contact tracing to give us the tools to keep people healthy and alive while also bringing a global economy back to life. They go hand in hand. To act otherwise is foolish, and dangerous. 
    There is no solution without a cost. Contact tracing runs us close to boundaries of privacy and personal security, so it must be handled wisely. But it must be done if we want to resurrect a way of life and earning that resembles what we've come to know as normal. Tracing is predicated on testing. It is embarrassing, humiliating and revealing how the US has failed at implementing testing. Even with both, we cannot expect a quick return to a vibrant economy. 
    The executive branch has failed miserably, ignoring warnings, firing key personnel, having not a clue about strategic reserve, and acting like amateurs. Because of that a total shutdown was a panic button response. It will take a lot to reignite the economy and even more to repair the damage.

second looks

creativity rocks
   Musicians, visual artists, performance artists, journalists and writers have been a shinning light in the pandemic darkness. Their efforts, while not as heroic as medical workers, are up there with grocery personnel, first responders, mail and delivery drivers and have provided immense service.
    Show hosts, news reporters and entourage casts have found a way to work around the logistic nightmare of not being in studios or being able to work together. 
    Saturday Night Live has delivered 3 at home programs that have been increasingly more sophisticated, tight and entertaining. Sam Bee and Bill Maher, working from their homes have continued their cutting edge satire. John Oliver has continued his deep dive into absurdity, corruption and failure. Seth Myers, Stephen Colbert, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon have continued to find ways to make lock down fatigued citizens laugh. 
      Musical artists have been extraordinary, working sans studio and bandmates. 
      There has been much to be immensely disturbed and worried about, but the artistic soul, expressed in myriad ways, should give us all a lot of hope.

aspirational behavior
     The same can be said of church and faith groups as well. They've found ways via Zoom, Facebook, Youtube and other streaming technologies to tend to the human soul, and provide pastoral care and succor.
      Teachers and parents have done admirable work in continuing education against extraordinary challenge.
      Millions of us have found a way through this historic passage. It is only human to long for "the way it used to be," but we've bucked up. Now is not a time to let impatience, idiocy, or selfishness set us back.
       There was a classic photo and commentary making the rounds. Protestors clamoring for a full reopening, not observing social distance, not wearing masks facing medical professionals, who have seen the worst of it, wearing masks and calling for reason. Someone noted the unmasked angry, some even with guns, cared only about themself, the masked, and socially distanced, cared about everyone.
       We deserve better than the selfish. We deserve better than their role model. 

rocks of ages
   Last year's visit to Scotland and Ireland put us in places that have withstood all life has to give, and have done so for centuries. Some even took over a century to build. 
    They've withstood plagues, fires, wars, including World Wars with bombing attacks, revolutionary change in culture, and attitude. Future changing history occurred in some of them. Generations have come and gone. They remain, like rocks for the ages.
     Regardless of your belief, these frames offer a sense of permanence, and the ability to endure and survive. They represent the heights of human skill, creativity, imagination and a sense of connection to the sacredness of life.

    Humankind can endure. We have it within us to be wise, and capable. It is ours to choose.

     Take care of each other.

      See you down the trail.