This column is dedicated to my Facebook friends and their friends. I’m writing it in response to the many ridiculous, clueless, heartless and just plain stupid posts that many of my friends have written over the past week. I call them Facebook friends, but in a real sense, they are merely acquaintances or friends of friends of friends. I have nearly 1,600 “friends” on Facebook but in reality, I’ve never met most of them.
Because of my political work and work as a columnist, I receive a lot of friend requests. Normally, these “friends” are a good source for stories and scoops in the making. They are always interesting for entertainment purposes. They have great memes and funny jokes. But then along came the COVID-19 virus.
I’m now giving strong consideration to pruning my Facebook tree way back because many of these people have turned just downright loony. The number of wild and wacky conspiracy theories, attacks on government officials and callous disregard for their fellow man has moved from just irritating to alarming. Here’s just a sample of some of the garbage being posted for human consumption:
Corona virus is a governmental plot to take away our constitutional freedoms.
The Bilderbergs and the Council on Foreign Relations have engineered the entire crisis.
The Democrats, the media and big business have hyped a minor flu bug into a freedom-threatening crisis.
Sports are more important than a few people dying.
Donald Trump is responsible for the pandemic because he blocked test kits.
The virus is no worse than the annual flu or pneumonia.
Trump is using the crisis to attack illegal immigration.
In every country where there was a serious outbreak, they have socialized medicine.
Homeschooling is better than public education.
Gov. Holcomb is trying to destroy churches with his emergency order.
The safest place to be during a pandemic is church.
The Chinese created the virus for military purposes and it got out of control.
COVID-19 is God’s way of thinning the herd.
The virus crisis has been engineered to take down Trump.
I’m shocked that seemingly intelligent people could come up with some of this stuff. Even giving an allowance for boredom and cabin fever, there’s a lot of disturbing stuff floating around.
Some of the blame for this should probably fall on some of our government officials and the media. Not that anyone in our government could have done anything to prevent the spread of the virus or that the media has overhyped the threat. The blame might be that we have failed to speak to the American people in plain and simple terms. I’m sorry, but the average person fails to grasp the meaning of the need to “flatten the curve of virus spread.” I think that most people are aware that there are serious problems in China, Iran and Italy, but why in the heck are they canceling March Madness and my spring break?
I believe that government and the media are trying to have it both ways, tell the public that it is very serious and yet not scare them out of their wits. I’m not sure that the message is getting through. Here is the situation as I see it:
We have a worldwide spread of a virus that is extremely contagious and has a kill rate that is about 10 times greater than the annual influenza bug that we are all familiar with. Even though we have the best health care system in the world, it is nowhere even close to being able to handle the effective treatment of a huge spike in hospital demand. Our decades-long reliance on managed care has shrunk the number of empty hospital beds in order to control costs. We have great hospitals and health care for normal demand but are woefully unprepared for surges in demand. Because of this hospital bed shortage, a normal growth of the spread of the virus curve will become unmanageable in approximately two to three weeks. The best we can do is try to slow the spread of the virus so that hospitals and medical professionals can handle the influx of patients.
In all likelihood, we will all come down with the virus at some point. For some, it will be a mild case of Hoosier “creeping crud” and for others, the elderly and those with health challenges, it will be a battle for life. “Depressing the curve” is merely a plea to help us help ourselves.
If you want to know what the alternative is to depressing the curve, look to Italy. Hospitals have been overwhelmed and now physicians are being forced to decide how to allocate scarce medical resources. This is a sanitized way of saying that doctors must choose who lives and who dies. It is sad and frightening and it is happening right now in Italy. If we are not vigilant, it will soon happen to our neighbors and our own families.
I grew up admiring my parents for being part of the “greatest generation.” They suffered through the Great Depression and World War II, endured shortages of every necessity in life, battled hunger, experienced crippling unemployment, lost friends and family to our enemies in war and yet carried on with an indomitable spirit that could not be conquered.
I wondered if my generation of Baby Boomers would be the lucky ones to avoid an existential crisis in our lifetime. Now, this is our challenge. We will either be successful or we won’t. There will be no participation trophies. It is our time to act in a manner that will bring pride to future generations. The great challenge is not in scoring an extra 24-roll package of Charmin, but in acting in such a way as to save the lives of unnamed and unknown others.
Are you up to the challenge?.