Saturday, July 24, 2021

I Can't Imagine


I watched a replay of the Olympic Games Opening ceremony.  Near the end of the ceremony they played the old John Lennon classic “Imagine” accompanied by a swelling symphony of Hans Zimmer written music while different singers representing the people of the world sang those famous lyrics:


Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people

Living for today…


I am sure millions of people around the world found the singing and the moment to be inspiring. Something that might bring us all together, especially as we battle a global pandemic, social injustice, racism, sexism, violence, climate change and slow service at the fast-food drive thru.  But, I’ve never liked that song or it’s message.  It may a be a feel-good song for those who dream of a man-made earthly Utopia.  But it runs counter to the evidence and human experience, not to mention the truth as written in Holy Scripture.


Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion, too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace…


C’mon, John.  It’s very hard to imagine no countries.  Geography alone would create countries.  Add in climate, natural resources along with the history of human civilization and you end up with countries. How’s the U.N. working out for us?  And how about that World Health Organization?  Even the E.U. can’t seem to make it work with only a few countries trying to operate just as one.  China would be on board as long as we all do it their way and to their benefit.  John, if only you were still around to explain this dream world to Left and Right-Wing extremists.  


And no religion?  People may not go to church.  They may not even believe in God or gods.  But human beings are “religious”.   Whether you believe we were created by a higher power for a higher purpose or just evolved to be what we are, humans are “religious”.  We have to believe in something, we must have a reason to be, to exist.  We may try to replace God with Secular Humanism, a Utopian vision, Social Justice, or some other ideology…but we all end up worshipping something.


Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people

Sharing all the world


Sorry John, I can’t even imagine “all the people” generously sharing highways or elevator space, much less their food and possessions.  A brotherhood of man?  Up to a point perhaps.  No need for greed or hunger?  Sign me up, just tell me how that system is going to work.  More specifically, who’s going to DO the work and who’s going to do the most difficult work, the most critical work?  Somehow I don’t really want the person doing my knee replacement to be functioning on the same level as the person washing my car when it comes to talent, skill, education, training, experience and economic reward.  

To be clear, that person washing my car absolutely deserves my total respect and to be fairly compensated for their labor.  But who’s going to determine what’s fair?  Let me give you a hint….it’s all the people…sharing all the world… and it’s called “the marketplace.   Now that’s something I actually can imagine.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Thinning The Herd


Back in December I made my predictions for 2021.  Two of those were related to Covid:

Covid-19 related restrictions will ease up a bit by mid-year, but are not going away in 2021.  If you are expecting “normal” to return sometime in 2021, you will be disappointed.

 70% of Americans will have been vaccinated by the end of the year, but there will still be a good deal of uncertainty.  Some will still get sick and some will die.  The fear and the testing will not go away.  Wearing masks and maintaining social distance will be with us at least through the winter of 2021-22.

The one point that stands out as a big miss so far is the % of Americans who have been fully vaccinated.  Right now that number is 50% and I think it’s doubtful that we will get to 70% by the end of the year.  Factor in the spread of Covid virus variants and the winter of 2021-2022 is not looking good.  I don’t see us going back to masks mandates in states like Texas, but I think you’ll start seeing more people wearing masks and keeping their distance as things go downhill later this year.

There is some good news in that 75% of seniors are fully vaccinated.  However, that it’s only 75% is a baffling.  Given the impact that Covid has had on seniors, why would any older person not take the vaccine.  The risk of side-effects from the vaccine is nothing compared to the risk of Covid for an un-vaccinated older person. While there is no guarantee that a vaccinated person won’t get sick, it appears that they are much less likely to; and if they do, the outcomes are likely to be more favorable.

I don’t think Americans will tolerate another full lockdown.  While football stadiums may be packed in September, by November we’ll likely be back to distancing and crowd limits.  The same is likely for restaurants and bars.  People who are working remote now will continue to work remote and some who have gone back to their office, will return to working remote.  The real wild card will be the schools.  Will they close? Will they offer both in-room and virtual classes?  How many parents will opt to keep their kids home?  And will the government subsidize these “home-schooling” parents?

There are a lot of big questions.  Will those who have been vaccinated need a booster shot this fall?  Will that depend on what vaccine they took in the first place?  If we do have a bad Covid winter, will vaccinations become mandatory? 

All of us would like to put the Covid nightmare behind us.  But Covid just keeps on coming.  And most likely, it will eventually become much like the seasonal flu which kills thousands of people every year.  A lot of people get flu shots and many will start getting their annual Covid shot.  And many will not. 

I am one of those who did take the vaccine. So did my wife.  Most people I know have gotten vaccinated, or at least say they have.  But there are plenty here in Grayson County Texas who have not.  That’s their choice.  It may put all of us, including the vaccinated, at greater risk.  It most certainly puts the unvaccinated at greater risk. Which means until we develop enough natural herd immunity, Covid will continue its march around the world…thinning the herd. 

“Throughout the pandemic, the nation lacked a uniform policy about gathering places, and there was no central authority with the power to make and enforce rules that everyone had to obey. Each community acted on its own, doing as its elected officials thought best.”
― Albert Marrin, Very, Very, Very Dreadful: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Birds Of A Feather

On this Fourth of July we find ourselves a nation divided.  Not since the years leading up to the Civil War have Americans been so polarized.  I hesitate to use that comparison considering that some still feel that many Americans are essentially enslaved by race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference or just their physical appearance. 


Indeed, these days we find ourselves divided along the lines of group identity.  There are groups who believe they are oppressed and groups who are seen as the oppressors.  Postmodern theorists make the case that those who are marginalized and oppressed own the high moral ground from which Truth may be spoken.  Therefore, they get to define the groups, who gets membership, how those groups rank in terms of being oppressed and which groups most clearly intersect with other oppressed groups.   Likewise, they have defined the oppressors who are, for the most part, those who have attained the most power and privilege in Western Civilization.


That groups exist is a fact.  How they interact, how we ended up where we are in the 21st Century and what we are going to do about it are issues that must be resolved.   And history tells us that there will be resolution at some point…peaceful or otherwise.


History also tells us that human beings are inclined toward grouping.  So groups are never going to go away.  We are tribal.  We form groups on purpose and usually for more than one purpose.   Essentially groups form for protection, production and power.  Groups must evolve to provide all of these, otherwise they fall apart and new groups emerge. 


And this formation always begins simply enough: Birds of a feather flock together.  As much as we may try to deny it, this is part of our survival instinct.  The challenge for us today is to decide which feathers matter the most or do any of the feathers matter all that much.  Will we continue to define ourselves by the color or shape or function of our feathers?   Or will we look beyond the feathers and accept one another as individuals?  As a group, as Americans, as citizens of planet earth; we all seek protection from harm, productive lives and the power to choose and control our lives.


So maybe the Fourth of July might be a good time to un-ruffle your feathers, look each other in the eye and stop fighting.  Ain’t none of us getting out of this thing alive, so we might as well learn how to get along.

"Once you're in the circus you're all in the circus, and of course it turns out that they are real people too." - Eric Idle, former member of the Monty Python comedy group