Last evening, we invited a dear friend to stop in for dinner on the back deck. It was a perfect evening to spend time breaking bread with a lady who loves animals as much as we do, works very hard and is as honest as the day is long. She is a supervisor at the farm across the road, and had a tough day managing a crowd of folks who drove through to get free food, courtesy of a couple of local businesses and the park board. After she left, I wondered if we should have done that. Of course we should have. She will always be welcome in our home, but our living nightmare, Covid-19, is changing the dynamic in America, causing reflection that is absurd on it’s face.
My first real experience with division on steroids was the Vietnam War. I was a happy kid when I scooted off to UMKC to begin my college career, a nice urban collegiate atmosphere seemed to suit my interest. This was in 1968, and America was in a very unpopular gunfight in Southeast Asia. My nice collegiate atmosphere in Kansas City was anything but tranquil. Anti -war demonstrators were all over the place, espousing a hatred that was alien to a kid raised on military bases by an Army officer. I was miserable, forced to defend a way of life that seemed absolute, and left college for the Army. This division is mitigated, with time healing most wounds and the era gradually fading from prominence.
Enter politics. This division is as old as the world itself. Again, I harken to the days of innocence, when serious division was centered around GM, Ford and Mopar muscle cars. I was also involved in the gun culture and we often defended our choice of deer calibers with like minded outdoors folks. Serious conflict was limited to a broken date or lost drag race. As you mature in America, politics creeps in and soon splits the herd. What a shame. Why do older Americans seemed preoccupied with this great dividing proposition? That’s easy, we have the time. It is when you let politics choose your friends and acquaintances that you have succumbed to it’s insidious, destructive nature. Never in our history, have we been so polarized. As I am fond of saying, being a moderate will guarantee you a table alone when you stop for lunch.
Now we have Covid-19. Damn this stuff and whomever is responsible for unleashing this hell on earth upon us. The country will not soon forget the division that is enveloping us as I write. Is the answer in the retort “damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead” or is it social distancing, masks and gloves on the weekly trip to buy bread and paper products? Have we gone too far? Have we gone far enough? Is it time to let the genie out of the bottle? Is Covid as deadly as some believe? Is it just another form of a virulent flu that we have seen in years past? Do we continue to scream across the street at our neighbors, instead of engaging in a coffee klatch conversation? Is it okay to ride a motorcycle with your like minded riders? Do you silently curse the shopper at a grocery store who touches every piece of produce with ungloved hands, or do you curse the individual who looks as if they just came from a hazmat spill? For every political move, “in our best interest” is a counter move calling the first option absurd. By now you get the picture. Out of such polarization, friendships are lost, accusations hurled and divisiveness occurs.
Yesterday, I spoke with a dear friend by telephone for a good long time. It was refreshing, as she is super intelligent and dealing with family issues, not of anyone but the Master’s doing. Covid-19 drifted into the conversation, and we seemed to validate each other’s approach to personal accountability in response to this mess we are in. Interestingly, politics slipped into the conversation and we again agreed on the futility of siding one way or another in the Washington war zone. The conversation was refreshing, in that clearly, we would never let these issues interfere with the bonds of friendship developed over many years. My wish for my friends today is a simple one, don’t let it happen. Be patient with both sides of the Covid response protocol adopted by people you know. This nasty virus is doing enough damage without damaging relationships built over many years. Nurture your old friendships and be wary of our new enemy. Another great divider is at work.
Have a great weekend!