Who Let the Reflection Out?

I was struck by the reflective writing in the Post-Dispatch on a slow news day (Tuesday) this week. Both “Heaven is a field for shattered and stolen dreams” and “As Lou Grant, Ed Asner gave hard-working journalists a face” looked back to the 1970’s and ’80’s to describe how the slower processes of baseball, lournalism and publication gave us pause to think about life as it unfolded. Like most nostalgic pieces they criticized explicitly or implicitly the unreflective processes driving our actions and our writing today.

The educational philosopher John Dewey gets credit for theorizing how we re-think or analyze our actions. He coined the concept of “reflection,” ‘the active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusions to which it tends’ (How We Think;1933: 9)

The important elements for reflective thinking are time and opportunity, something our culture has lacked for generations. The loss of the institution of the Sabbath, the new institution of the 24-hour news cycle, and the proliferation of news and cultural media are among the causes of overcrowding of thought that deny us time and opportunity for reflection.  We do not reflectively choose how to spend our time or with whom we spend it.

Whom do we blame for the lack of reflective thinking in our judgments, actions and writing today? Why is it always the youngest thinkers—currently Generation Z— who get the blame for unreflective action, because of social media and lack of reading skills? What about their parents the Generations X and Y and even their grandparents, the Baby Boomers? Are we off the hook?

In his article “Heaven is a field” David Chartrand mentions Jim Rome, the sports radio commentator, as a critic of the corn and schmaltz of the so-called “Field of Dreams” competition between the White Sox and the Yankees.  Rome is an astute observer of sports, but he ridicules those who disagree with him, and his opinions are generated in a 24-hour news cycle, giving sports fans opinions manufactured in short order. Not much reflection in sports-talk radio, a format that tells sports fans what to think.  Rome is also a firmly entrenched member of Generation X.

Rome is an astute commentator, who found his niche in sports-talk radio. We could argue that news-talk commentators like Fox’s Tucker Carlson or CNN’s Brian Stelter have offered pre-digested opinions in the same short news cycle. These are not youthful media observers, and their audiences are typically Baby-boomers and Generation X-ers.  The same might be said about experts in the fields of fashion, finance, consumerism and religion.  Baby boomers and Generation X-ers  are told what to think and why we should think it.  Time, opportunity and freedom are lost or squandered.

Baby-boomers and Generation X-ers are the models for Generation Z.  We abandoned reflective thinking decades ago, when we adopted formats like talk-show radio, 24-hour news  and sports analysis, and Dear Abby and abandoned the forty-hour work week, sabbatical  practices (rest and reflection), forums for divergent thinking, and in-person church-going.  We should realize that the squandering of time and opportunity began with us. Our kids and grand-kids only inherited the social media and 24-hour news cycle from us. In fact we invented the businesses.

It is folly to think we can turn back the clock on these institutions and cultural trends, but it is valuable to own the folly, the loss of time and opportunity. We have not lost the capability for reflection, but we need the motivation to pause and consider our lives, to evaluate who shapes our opinions, and find the time to shape our own opinions and beliefs.  The writer David Chartrand says of Field of Dreams: “it asked us to wonder what happened to dreamers whose dreams are shattered or taken away.” We can still avoid becoming those dreamers if we can find time for reflection.

Invulnerability

There was a hurricane forecast a week in advance.

  • The grim anniversary of Katrina coming up.
  • The exposure of your property on and into the Gulf.
  • The warnings of state and local governments.

It all sounded like doom, and yet the shore residents of Louisiana battened down to withstand the storm.

What were they thinking? Did they always gamble when the odds were so much against them?

I think probably the answer is “yes,” and maybe a number of them had gone unvaccinated as well.

In retrospect the residents of LaPlace and Grand Island, to name two locations, had no reason to be confident, but some decided to ride it out.

Sure enough, they were swamped and calling out for rescue on Monday, the day after Ida hit. Their cellars and first floors were deluged. They had weeks of power outages to look forward to, as the temperature and humidity soared.

Now there are plenty of reasons not evacuate: the traffic jams, lack of gasoline for vehicles, no where to go, but, in the final analysis, there was no good alternative to evacuating. They were going to be swamped and without power for weeks. This much could be anticipated.

I don’t want to blame victims or even suggest that these folks don’t deserve the best rescue and recovery services Louisiana and the federal government can offer. But can they learn from this hurricane the lesson that Katrina failed to teach them? They are not invulnerable, and nature is stronger than all the human grit they can manage.

Everyone loves a human being with fortitude, the one who defies the odds. But “human vs. hurricane” is a plot that has a bad outcome.  I’d rather read the “human flying to safety” story that shows the wisdom of preparation for disaster. I’d rather read about humble people, admitting their vulnerability, packing up their essentials, and seeking shelter. I’d rather hear about the ample provisions on high ground made for a coming disaster. My heroes are the Red Cross and FEMA.

Heroism easily crosses the line into stubbornness. If you live on the Gulf of Mexico, you need to have an emergency preparedness plan, and when a Class 3 or 4 hurricane is predicted, execute it. Learn to accept your vulnerability and light out for high ground. Let the hurricane claim its shore targets without its human victims.

This is the kind of headline I would like to read : Shore Residents Safe from Hurricane X!

Jab-o-Phobia

Why have so many Americans refused this particular vaccination, the CoVid19 vaccination, when vaccinations have been an acceptable rite of passage since smallpox?  Polio, mumps, measles vaccinations have been administered with hardly a protest and with confidence that we would now be safe from childhood diseases. Is there more than the silly conspiracy theories that some fall prey to? Yes there is, and I call it “jab-o-phobia.”

No one wants to admit it, but the visual image of needles piercing the skin has turned many of us squeamish. Every night the media forces the image of needles biting into arms on our unwilling eyes and ramps up the fear of the jab, the penetration of a foreign object into our arms. That is not a welcome prick.

My Dad always said to avert my eyes, so I wouldn’t have to look at the needle doing its handiwork, and I took his advice willingly. When I gave blood a week ago, I turned my head away from the needle and the nurse administering it, covered it up with a gauze so I wouldn’t have to view my arm penetrated by a sharp object.  The nurses know that some of us just don’t want to view our skin being punctured, even for a good cause.

The media has no such consideration. Every news story about Covid, whether its spread or its vaccination, has to be accompanied by not one, but several skin puncture images, in case we forgot what a vaccination looks like.  How many such images have penetrated our eyes since the beginning of the pandemic? Someone probably knows, but I can only say it has been too many. Unlike other images of violence, the sight of needle jabbing into skin does not lose its efficacy. It continues to be cringe-worthy.

Talk about mixed messages, the media barks at us about getting the vaccination nightly, then shows us an up-close image of what it looks like in case we have forgotten.  Needles digging into vulnerable skin with razor-sharp ruthlessness. Even if we know it is painless, the visual prompt makes the imagination explode.

No one is going to admit this fear, because it is the weakest rationalization possible. “You’re afraid of a needle? C’mon, you big baby! Everyone gets it!”  And maybe we don’t even admit it to our conscious minds, instead forming the rationalization that it hasn’t received the FDA approval or it could be a government plot. We refuse to admit we fear the jab, so it always comes out as an adult excuse. We would rather say we fear we are being injected with an insidious microchip than that we just can’t bear the idea of a needle raping our delicate, last membrane of defense.

It’s probably too late to call off the dogs, but it might help to declare a moratorium on skin puncture images in the media.  The media has always been sensitive to matters of political correctness, so this matter of jab-o-phobia ought to be registered as a vaccination deterrent.

Eliminate all images of skin punctuation! Our eyes have been assaulted long enough! Show smiling faces and soothing music when you broadcast news of CoVid-19.  A few of us will be reassured, and many of us will breathe a sigh of relief when news of vaccinations is not accompanied by the ruthless puncture of our last external protection against the violence of the universe.

Another Take on “Give Me Liberty. . .”

Let’s face it: no one likes to wear the face-coverings required to keep out the Delta-Corona-19 virus. In St. Louis County, where I live, we have been in limbo for two weeks following the Council’s vote against the Director’s mandate that we wear masks in enclosed public spaces.  The conflict went to court, where a judge arbitrated the issue, until finally it ended with no county mandate for masks.

The result is sporadic requirements in restaurants, theaters, and churches throughout the county. When I enter a public space I hold my mask at the ready, but I am more than happy to stick it in my pocket and not wear it, even in the crowds at the MUNY, where the theater seats are outdoor, but the crowds stream together as we enter the space. Masks are uncomfortable, especially in the hot, humid weather of August. They impede natural breathing and speaking.

Is this an argument for no mandates for masks? That we are uncomfortable and have a right to our comfort, regardless of how it affects the spread of the virus? Quite the opposite. It shows the need for a mandate. We are unwilling to wear the suffocating things in public without a mandate.  We need the requirement to enforce our own health needs.

This shows the callous disregard for public health shown by the governors of Florida, Texas and Arizona, who designed laws to prevent schools and cities from issuing a mask mandate for children as they start the school year. Masks are proven to cut the virus’s spread among children if worn consistently, according to Dr. Jessica Snowden. a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Arkansas Children’s Hospital [“GOP, schools clash,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 21, 2021].  “She said the delta variant infects children more often and makes them sicker than last year’s variants.”

Governor DeSantis’ threat to cut school funding, if schools issue a mask mandate coddles his political base at the expense of children’s and teachers’ health. More callous yet is his ultimate goal of gaining a foothold on the Republican nomination for the President in 2024.  Political ambition trumps, yes Trumps, the health of unvaccinated children who are required to gather in disease-susceptible places in August, 2021.

In spite of such threats the Miami Dade Public School District, the 4th largest school district in US and largest district in FL, opened with a mask mandate. It is heartening to hear that schools are not intimidated by a ruthless politician and show a higher regard for protecting the health of children and all who they come in contact with.  Similar acts of defiance are taking place in Dallas, Houston and Phoenix, seeking to prevent the spread of the Delta-variant among their school children.

The governors of Texas and Florida seem impervious to the higher spread of Corona-virus cases in their states: 28% of all U.S. cases, while their population is 15% of the U.S. population.  The news reports of overcrowded ICU’s and over-taxed nurses and doctors make no impression on these callous politicians. They trust their citizens to wear masks if necessary.  How absurd to think we would wear those constricting face-coverings if we didn’t have to!  Even our common sense can prevent us from taking proper health measures. Before the Corona virus how many of us religiously washed our hands after coming in from public exposure? How many of us do it now?

Liberty does not always appeal to sensible practices.  It is all well and good to say, “Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices,” as Governor Greg Abbott said regarding his ban on local mask mandates. But somebody has to enforce common sense in order for all of us to comply. Otherwise the few irresponsible will infect the many responsible.  This is why we have public health regulations and a government that enforces them. How hard is that to realize?

The answer is that the governors of Florida, Texas and Arizona know very well that public health regulations like mask-wearing, are necessary, but they pander to their political base anyway.  It is hard to believe they will stubbornly adhere to their penalties against school districts while their local ICU’s fill beyond capacity and schools close down from the spread of Delta-Corona-19.  But political ambition may have no limits.

 

Nation on Life Support

There are no countries supported by our military that would collapse if our military was withdrawn.  A country that depends on our military support to exist would be considered “occupied.”  Occupation was the state of some nations following World War II, but it was the urgent goal of the Allies to put those countries back on their feet.  “Occupation” was always viewed as a temporary status.

Afghanistan has been an occupied nation for twenty years. We now know how dependent it was on our occupation, since it collapsed as soon as we declared our intention to leave.  There was no “Afghanistan” apart from the funding and military presence of the United States. That should not be the permanent status of any sovereign nation.

Virtually no one among the political pundits favored the “nation-building” that was required for us to keep a military presence in Afghanistan or Iraq, but keeping a country on “life-support” with our military presence was considered necessary and without time limits, if you listen to the armchair critics now.

Probably the worst mistake of the Biden administration was over-estimating how much the sitting government would be able to assist in the withdrawal of American citizens.  President Ashraf Ghani fled before the Taliban even reached the gates of Kabul, leaving a total power vacuum for the Taliban to walk into, and leaving U.S. citizens to fend for themselves in their exit of a country they propped up for twenty years.

No one seems surprised that the Republic of Afghanistan vanished overnight, and that U.S. citizens and their military had to manage their own evacuation. Everyone seems to think propping up such as government with a minimal occupying force was a good investment of American lives and foreign aid. So many legislators and journalists in the past have spoken loudly against “nation building” in the Mideast, but apparently there is more appetite for keeping nations on “life support.”

This is not to say that the Biden administration should not have anticipated how fragile the existing Afghanistan was and how inept they would be in assisting the evacuation. Clearly the preparations for evacuation should have rested entirely on American shoulders, and they should have begun in earnest months ago.  And yet I wonder how many outside the Biden administration imagined how quickly and completely the Afghan administration would vanish once it was clear the paychecks from America would be cut off.  Now you see them, now you don’t.

There were never any good choices in cutting off a nation on life support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sale + Flaherty = Signs of Glory

The St. Louis Cardinals got positive news on Jack Flaherty's latest injury update.

Jack Flaherty

Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox

Chris Sale

My pitching heroes made a splendid return to their pitching rotations this weekend, both with at least five-inning wins in which they were in control the entire time.

“In control” might be an exaggeration for Chris Sale, as he allowed two home runs and threw a couple of pitches that could have gone to the backstop, except for the alert snags of Christian Vasquez, but he was unfazed and worked in his constant quick rhythm the entire six innings. He threw a lot of pitches, but he also struck out eight batters, which always requires a few extra pitches to accomplish.

John Flaherty, on the other hand, went six innings and showed pinpoint control, walking none and striking out five. He probably could have gone another inning for his ninth victory, but the Cardinals were understandably cautious with his oblique injury. How about nine wins at this point in the season after missing two months of it?

Sale’s return might be a little more momentous, since he had Tommy John (elbow) surgery two years ago. Elbows are more recoverable since the ground-breaking surgery of Tommy John in 1974. It is a tendon replacement known as ulnar collateral replacement. Sale’s performance indicated a full recovery. He averaged 93.3 mph on his fastball, virtually the same speed of his fastball in 2019.

The biggest concern following Tommy John surgery is not velocity, however. It’s control. Strike-throwing ability is usually the last thing to return post-elbow reconstruction, and, on Saturday, Sale threw 60 of 89 pitches for strikes, or 67.4 percent. Between that and the velocity, there were positive signs abound. https://pressfrom.info/us/news/sports/-788388-chris-sale-strikes-out-eight-in-season-debut-for-red-sox-and-first-mlb-start-in-two-years.html
The signs of full recovery couldn’t be better for a pitcher who has exemplary discipline and game preparation.
Flaherty’s recovery was just as complete as he did not allow a Royal (Kansas City) to reach scoring position the entire game. Flaherty showed more control than Sale with a command of the corners and a limited (unknown) number of pitches thrown. Still Sale’s 67.4 % strike ratio indicates he had good command of his pitches.
The Cardinals and the Red Sox should be inspired by the return of these two future Hall-of-Fame pitchers. The Cardinals needed the help more, as they are ten games out of the Central Division lead and the leaders, the Milwaukee Brewers, will be in town next week. The Brewers can expect a dose of Wainwright/ Flaherty to slow them down. There’s hope.
This baseball diversion comes at a time when the heart beats for nine-inning drama. It is a long season, but the  return of two magnificent hurlers in the final two months makes it all worth while.

 

 

 

Restoration, Not Retribution

The notion of “reparations” falls far short of the justice called for in racial oppression or injury. “Reparations” comes from the settling of injuries following a war, and it has a strong economic basis, a “payoff” rather than an attempt to settle grievances. That is why reparations will never bring a settlement to racial injustice.

The notion of restorative justice, commonly connected with a criminal offender and the community offended, comes much closer to the need for peace among the races. “Restoration” seeks to reunite the offender with the offended, not just settle a score. Restoration should be the goal, not retribution, which is the basis for satisfying the grievances of offended people. The grievances of offended people run far deeper than retribution will ever be able to heal.

Instead of retribution, the principle that governs the penal system, restoration, the principle that brings the offended back into society as a forgiven citizen.

Jesus, many mystics, Indigenous cultures, and other wisdom traditions show an alternative path toward healing. In these traditions, sin and failure are an opportunity for the transformation of the person harmed, the person causing harm, and the community. Mere counting and ledger-keeping are not the way of the Gospel. Our best self wants to restore relationships, and not just blame or punish. This is the “economy of grace” and an operative idea of restorative justice. https://cac.org/restoring-relationships-2020-09-06/?utm_source=cm&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dm&utm_content=summary

Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, explores restorative justice in a full week of reflections, of which this is the first.  Here he reflects on the connection of restoration to the Gospels and many other religious traditions. The goal is always restoration, which does not ignore past grievances, but looks forward to the transformation of both offender and offended to a whole community in the sense of “healed” and “forgiven.”

The metaphor of “restoration” places the white and privileged races in the role of “offender,” a possible sticking point for those who feel justified in their relations with other races. To some degree their self-justification makes sense, if they are opposing prejudice in their communities, but there is a legacy of prejudice that remains their burden. There is a reason that black and white communities live removed from each other, that segregated schools offer inferior education, that Black entrepreneurs can not gain a foothold in business, that Black candidates can not achieve public office. It is the legacy of prejudice that the privileged inherit as sure as they inherit their wealth.

What restoration offers is the dismantling of this legacy by the “economy of grace.” We can believe in transformation by our sincere repentance and the grace of God. We can not expect restoration without repentance and grace, because generations of white people have failed to accomplish it with all their protests about being good people with good intentions. Restoration demands more than “good intentions.” It demands repentance for our legacy and Grace.

There is much more to repentance than I want to go into here, but here are some key principles from “restorative justice.org”

  1. Crime causes harm and justice should focus on repairing that harm.
  2. The people most affected by the crime should be able to participate in its resolution.
  3. The responsibility of the government is to maintain order and of the community to build peace.

“Repair” should not be confused with “reparations.” Repair is about healing of relationships, in this case racial relationships. Racial relationships have been damaged, and all of us, especially the privileged need to actively “participate in its resolution.”

By the grace of God, we will be healed.

Return of the Mighty

This weekend appears to be an overdose of comeback fever for a Boston-Red-Sox-converted-St.-Louis-Cardinal fan.

Two disabled pitching stars are making their first starts with the success of the ML Baseball home stretch hanging in the balance.

On Friday Cardinal ace Jack Flaherty returns to service following two months sidelined with a torn oblique muscle. Here’s the good news from Mike Claiborne of Sportsgrid.

Mike Claiborne reports St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jack Flaherty will start Friday against the Kansas City Royals.

Flaherty has been sidelined with an oblique injury, last pitching in a 9-4 Cardinals loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 31. He went five innings, allowing two runs on two hits and striking out nine batters. Making 11 starts this season, Flaherty has an 8-1 record with a 2.90 ERA, 26% K rate and a 1.03 WHIP. He has struck out six or more batters in eight starts this season as a top arm in the National League.

Jack Flaherty Set To Return to Cardinals Rotation Friday

Meanwhile, the legendary left arm of Chris Sale will be deployed in the Major League for the first time in two years, when he steps on the mound against the White Sox on Saturday.

Chris Sale

When Chris Sale at last steps back on that mound for the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon, it will be the first time he has done so in a Major League game in two years and one day. That’s right – Aug. 13, 2019, was the last time Sale pitched a game for Boston.

With the Red Sox trying to emerge from their worst slump of the season (Wednesday’s 20-8 rout of the Rays was a good place to start), the return of the ace takes on even more significance.

It was going to be an ideal scenario that would allow Sale to get his legs back under him while providing a huge boost of energy that would help the Red Sox avoid those dreaded dog days of August.

Probably no one but a hybrid Red Sox/ Cardinal fan can be as excited as I am about the return of two pitching legends at this juncture of the season.  These are potential Hall-of-Fame pitchers with extraordinary impact on ordinary teams. Perhaps I should give the Red Sox credit for their extraordinary season that has kept them at least as Wild Card contenders beyond the expectations of most baseball pundits. But it doesn’t diminish the need for an ace lefty to revive their pitching staff on August 21.

It would be a mistake to expect any pitcher, no matter how talented, to return to form in a single start, but expectations will be high for both of these remarkable pitchers. They are more than mortal in St. Louis and New York, so we should try to temper our expectations for arms that will need pampering.

The moment Jack and Chris stand on a Major League mound will still be inspiring to the players behind them and the fans who have anticipated them. I will be one of those fans, excited by the return of the god-like Flaherty and Sale. Just show a glimpse of former glory, and I will be satisfied. A couple of innings of shutout ball, and maybe a couple of staggering exhaustion. That’s all I ask.  The rest is recovery and seeds of hope for this fateful season.

 

 

History in the Making

A common view of history is that it is best viewed from a distance, when the observers and writers have a truer perspective.  In his review of contemporary American history textbooks, Lies My Teacher Told Me, James W. Loewen argues that history texts are written to accommodate contemporary politics, rather than to take a long view of the events.

Historical perspective is thus not a by-product of the passage of time. A more accurate view derives from Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance, which suggests that the social practices of the period when history is written, largely determine that history’s perspective on the past. Objective scholarship must be linked with a modern experience that permits it to prevail. (263)

By example, he points out the change in our understanding of the Reconstruction Period before (1865- 1954) and after (1954 – present) the Civil Rights Movement and our opinion of Columbus before (1892-1992) and after our reaching out to Latin American countries whose ancestors suffered under the Spanish conquistadors.  History textbooks have been revised to reflect our current political consensus.

The point is that contemporary politics has more to say about how history textbooks are written than the perspective of passing time. Which brings us to the investigation of the attack on the Capitol Building, January 6, 2021.

We could resign ourselves to the inevitability of politics coloring the significance of that now memorable day, or we could strive to get at the facts before politics has wrecked havoc with them. Eye witness testimony and video footage of the event gives us some advantage over historians past, who often suffered from multiple and disagreeing witnesses of events. We have a chance to reconstruct events as close as possible to their occurrence.

The attempt to delay or discourage investigation of the events of January 6,2021 only increases the likelihood of politics coloring the facts. If you want to read some interesting analysis of how history textbooks have obscured the causes and consequences of the Vietnam War or the Iraqi War, you should read Chapter Ten – “Down the Memory Hole: The Disappearance of the Recent Past” in James W. Loewen’s  study of contemporary American History textbooks.  Loewen points out how these events have passed from the experience of contemporary teenagers, yet are often vaguely summarized in American history texts for fear of political bias intruding on the language.

Loewen argues, however, that failing to consider the “why” of historical events is what turns textbooks to the style of “one damn thing after another” hypnotizing the reader into a nap. Students dislike history books because they fail to analyze events, even from conflicting views, and give them nothing to chew on. Better to offer competing analyses of events than to blandly summarize them as if they had no real causes.

So the best course is to look deeply into recent events in our history books, and the best accuracy comes from close historical study that a Congressional committee could provide.  Certainly there will always be majority and minority opinions, but that is how history is made and how students learn to analyze competing interpretations.

Some readers will always insist that their version of historical events in the right one, and that we unnecessarily complicate history by claiming different versions. We can only get to that authoritative version by investigating now and investigating thoroughly. We owe it to tomorrow’s students who will read about the events of January 6, 2021 in their history books, not with bland summaries, but with penetrating analysis. Yet there will be some disputes, even about the facts. What will history report about the “insurrection”?

Students should understand how history was made and then interpreted by an immediate and thorough investigation. So let the investigation proceed with all dispatch.

Masks of Prevention and Opportunity

The recommendation that vaccinated people in some parts of the country dust off their masks was based largely on one troublesome finding, according to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New research showed that vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant carry tremendous amounts of the virus in the nose and throat, she said in an email responding to questions from The New York Times. https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/FMfcgzGkZZsrxGTJmhjbjtbFqPcmXQbV

A major benefit of getting vaccinated fell by the wayside last week, as the vaccinated public are reported as significant carriers of the Delta variant, according to the latest data from the CDC.  No one can be more chagrinned than I, facing the prospect of masking up for every public indoor event  for the indefinite future.  It is not enough to regret getting vaccinated, but it weakens my argument for the unvaccinated to step up and be counted.

Masking up feels like such a defeat at this point in the summer. We had just savored the victory of eating out, visiting museums and going to church without the mask and here comes the collapse of the cloth on our faces. The cloth that clouds the eye glasses with steam and adds to the insufferable humidity of St. Louis.  We did not even have a chance to whimsically recall the masking days before we were puffing into them again.  Now there is no chance I will recall the humor of those days. They came back with a vengeance.

That said, the public outrage about masking again and the legal and economic pressure on county leaders and school districts is ridiculous.  It has given the politically ambitious an invented cause to fuel their campaigns and polarized citizens about an issue we should agree upon for our health and the health of our children.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt, having put China in the background, decided to launch against St. Louis County’s masking order for his next target. It’s all about our liberty to wear or not to wear a piece of clothing, if you accept his argument. Ignored is the issue of exposing our fellow citizens to a virus with demonstrated power to transmit among both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.  Apparently the power to choose to infect or not infect is the ultimate liberty, not to mention the power to stir up an irritable constituency to vote for Eric Schmitt for U.S. Senator. When we go to the polls in two years, we should remember who was most effective in polarizing local citizens over an issue we should have agreed upon.

Meanwhile, down in Florida, Governor Ron Desantis has forbidden school mask mandates, despite the fact that children K-5 can not be vaccinated before the school year begins.  With this extraordinary proscription, the Governor has taken his stand among live-free-and-die candidates for President.  He most certainly has fired the anger of  parents against each other when they send their vulnerable children back to school among their unmasked classmates. In the case of face coverings during the riot of the Delta variant of Covid-19, nothing can be more divisive than permitting some to cover and some to disdain coverings as the virus runs rampant in Florida.

The immortal  words “Give me liberty or give me death” have returned to relevance in the South.  As we watch the most infectious virus in our history sweep the most unvaccinated states in the country, we have to ask if that is the price of liberty for the vulnerable populations among us. It may be good politics for opportunists like Eric Schmitt and Ron DeSantis, but it is not good health policy for the rest of us. Yes, masking again is damned inconvenient, but adults can make judgments by more than their convenience, the whims of freedom and political opportunism.