What Happened to Moderation?

What happened to moderation? The anger, fear, contempt, and belligerence that so many people feel toward those they disagree with about the handling of The Bob seem way too extreme to me. For example, those who desperately want a vaccine are furious with those who say they won’t take it even if offered. Why so scathing? When there is a vaccine, those who want it should get it and those who don’t should have the right to refuse. If you believe in the vaccine, then you are protected whether anyone else gets it or not, so what difference can it make to you what others do? And if you don’t think the vaccine is effective enough to protect you against those who aren’t vaccinated, then why get it?

I don’t care one way or another about a vaccine, certainly not to the point of fighting about it. All I really care about is not being forced — again — into getting a dubious vaccine. I was put into that situation during the swine-flu scare in the 1970s, and it left me (and many others) worse off than if we hadn’t been inoculated. Way more people got sick from the vaccine and even died than from the flu itself. So you can see why I’d be leery of getting a hurriedly concocted and untested vaccine.

But that was just an example of a heated controversy off the top of my head, not necessary what I want get off mind.

There is more anger and fear and coming to blows over opening up businesses again than there seems to be over The Bob itself. Although the current buzz phrase is that “we’re all in this together,” the truth is, we are not. Everyone is coming at this from their own world view, from their own situation. Politicians, leaders, and news media, of course, are trying to spin this in the best possible light to foster their own interests, but so are all of us individuals. A person who is totally isolated in her own home feels differently from one who is snug inside with a loving family. A person who still has an income feels differently from one who has lost their job, can’t get unemployment, and is on the verge of losing their home. A person who continues to read all sorts of publications and listens to all sorts of experts, not just the major media or appointed experts, has a different view from someone who has already made up their mind about what is going on.

And a person in a small town in a small county in a small part of a state with but one confirmed case and an asymptomatic one at that, has an entirely different view of the world than one who is mired in a big city with a huge number of cases. I’m not the only one to see the short-sightedness of a one-size-fits all Bob plan. The tri-county area here is petitioning the state for a variance to the current safer-at-home orders. Considering that these counties are impoverished to begin with, shutting down the economy was really disastrous.

Of course, they had no choice. According to the now discredited models of how many people were going to get sick and how many were going to die even with stay-at-home orders in place, they had to prepare. (I’d heard a rumor that this county had ordered hundreds of beds and had planned to set up an infirmary in the community center since there is no hospital here and the two nearest ones would have had their own problems.) And, to get any sort of help, the cities had to declare an emergency. Later, of course, when the state got in the act to protect those in the major cities, the local folks no longer had a choice. They had to shut everything down and keep it shut down.

Some people here are pleased with the possibility of a variance, others are totally appalled and terrified. It would be nice to see things opened up more and stores back in business, but it won’t make any difference to me. I have nowhere to go, and just because the city might be removing some restrictions, it doesn’t mean I have to go out among people if I think it’s a risk.

One statistic is especially telling. Normally in a year, 75% of deaths are those who are over 65. 80% of the deaths from The Bob are over 65. Most younger people who get The Bob either have no symptoms or who have a few symptoms that don’t cause much damage. The thing is, no one can protect us from everything. And despite what people say, the government’s job is not just to keep us safe. If so, then speed limits even on highways would be considerably below 45 mph, sugar would be a controlled substance rather than a subsidized business, and damaging drugs like statins would be off the market. Not that I want any of those things to happen — there is too much interference in our lives as it is, and if this current situation tells me anything, it’s that ever more interference will be the norm.

And no, I’m not saying to sacrifice the elderly. I am saying protect the elderly. (Or let them protect themselves if they can and want to. A lot of people I know are willing to take a chance on The Bob to have a bit of a life, and that is their perogative.) I am saying let people do what they want. If you don’t like it, you can continue to stay home. Speaking as an elder, I certainly wouldn’t choose to tank an entire economy, either a rather shaky local one or robust global one, just to protect me. I could understand when inundating the hospitals was a possibility, and I could understand when a shortage of ventilators was an issue, but since hospitals around here aren’t overflowing, since makeshift infirmaries aren’t necessary, and since ventilators kill more Bob sufferers than they help, it’s not an issue.

I know some of you are getting angry reading this because it goes against what you believe or who you have chosen to believe. You might even be one of those who think it’s important to be safe at all cost — so be safe. I will, at least to the best of my ability. But if by chance I get sick, well . . . I still wouldn’t choose to penalize the entire town to prevent it.

Most of all, I will be moderate. Someone needs to be.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

The Truth About Truth

During the last presidential election, I lost so much respect for so many folks that I didn’t think my opinion of people could get much lower, but I am now losing even more respect for people than I did back then.

It’s not their opinions that matter — or don’t matter — to me. People can believe whatever they want, can say whatever they want, share whatever they want. I read everything. (In this way, if nothing else, I am a bit different from those who read only that which illuminates or proves what they already believe.) I agree with some of what most people say and most of what some people say, so I really have no stake in what is generally believed or disbelieved.

I have learned enough to know that contrary to what people are saying, we are not all in this together. We might all be dealing with the same global situation, but everyone is dealing with their own particular brand of the situation. Some people are terrified while others don’t seem particularly upset. Some people are going stir-crazy with the lockdowns yet for other people, it’s not much different from their pre-quarantine lives. Some people are dying of loneliness and the lack of touch, others are dying from The Bob or other diseases. Some people are grieving, others are just waiting for the restrictions to be lifted. Some people are angry at those who don’t wear masks even out walking by themselves with no one else around. Some people refuse to wear masks unless it is mandated, and sometimes not even then. Some people are losing jobs, others are losing their minds. Still others are living in dread of the aftermath of the shutdown and the long-term repercussions.

We all live with the values we take to heart and whatever truth we can face. Some people’s truth tends to be very religious. For others it’s politics. Still others look behind the headlines of the news to find deeper reasons for what is happening in the world. It’s all good. It’s all truth in its own way.

As Berrnie LaPlante (Dustin Hoffman) says to his son at the end of the movie Hero: “You remember when I said how I was gonna explain about life, buddy? Well the thing about life is, it gets weird. People are always talking ya about truth. Everybody always knows what the truth is, like it was toilet paper or somethin’, and they got a supply in the closet. But what you learn, as you get older, is there ain’t no truth. All there is is bullshit, pardon my vulgarity here. Layers of it. One layer of bullshit on top of another. And what you do in life like when you get older is, you pick the layer of bullshit that you prefer and that’s your bullshit, so to speak.”

Yep. That about covers it, though I have to admit, the toilet paper analogy is especially amusing and apropos considering the current shortage of both toilet paper and truth.

So why am I losing respect? Because other people don’t have the same laissez-faire attitude that Bernie does. Too often people resort to ridicule, belligerence, sarcasm and other tools of the weak when they are confronted with ideas contrary to their own.

What does it matter to anyone what other people believe to be the truth? That’s their level of bullshit. You have your own. Does it matter that some of your FB friends are turning to God to help them through this situation? Does it matter that some are using this situation to foster their political beliefs? Does it matter that some believe the official story? Does it matter that some people are looking for causes and explanations from experts other than the “official” experts?

No. None of that matters. We are all coping the best we can. Sneering at people for their truth is no help to anyone. Getting nasty toward people who post different sources than yours shows a lack of open-mindedness. Ridiculing people only points out the ridiculousness of your own position, not theirs.

I still go on Facebook way more than I should. Partly, it’s to reply to comments that people leave on my posts. Partly it’s to catch up with those few I do respect — the people who post thoughtful articles from a variety of sources and who never resort to ridicule or belligerence or sarcasm.

And partly, I have to admit, because I am bored. (Boredom is not something I ever like admitting, because I believe any reasonably intelligent person has the resources to stave off boredom, but these are times that try even the most resourceful.)

Luckily, FB has a snooze button so I can put the less than reasonable folks in a time-out. Even more luckily, my knee is healing, which allows me to get around more and find other things to do than play on the computer. (Part of the issue with my knee/leg, I have come to realize is that I spend way too much time sitting at my computer, so staying away is good on so many levels.)

This the truth. Or at least my truth.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.