Learning

Check this space for my personal observations about July 1, 2020.

COVID-19: Tuesday, June 23, my Dentist, mentioned an excellent webcast he had watched recently about COVID-19.  I’ve listened to it, and I concur.  Here it is.  It’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford Medical, on the webcast Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson.  Do take the time.  The link is to YouTube.  There are two earlier webcasts with the same individuals.

The webcast, which I would not otherwise have known about, is well-informed, and minimally clouded by personal beliefs or ideological considerations.

It is food for thought.

RACISM:  [IMPORTANT NOTE as of Sep. 16,2020:

The University of St. Thomas has placed the Becoming Human series on a new platform on their website.

To access the Becoming Human Series, please go here

While there is a fee for this series, The Basilica of Saint Mary is offering this series free of charge: The Discount Code is BecomingHuman100

We invite you to utilize this series and share the Discount Code, as needed.

On the site page, go to “Add Course to Cart,” enter into the “Check Out” page and add the Discount Code:

BecomingHuman100. This will remove the fee and you will have access to the series free of charge.]

A couple of times, recently, I’ve urged readers to view a six-part series on Racism, and I am doing so again.  The links, from St. Thomas University in St. Paul MN, can be found here.  (Scroll down to the first item, “Becoming Human”,  in “Featured Resources”.  In the series, if you haven’t already watched the six one-hour talks, six white professors talk about several aspects of ‘racism’ as they see it in the U.S., past and present. Two are men, four are women.  That they are all white is intentional and explained in the 6th talk.  I have watched them all, as I watched the above COVID-19 talk.  They are all food for thought and for conversation.

*

Of course, there are other topics, and I plan to raise them with greater frequency as the political ‘season’ intensifies rapidly.

Stay tuned.  Watch for comments on or about July 1 below the photo….

Tarryall area Colorado Spring 1962

COMMENT from Jermitt, June 25, re COVID-19: Thanks for sharing your blog.  In a way I have to disagree there is no one steering the ship.  If the World Health Organization had more power, they could have great influence on the leaders of each county (except US as we know how Trump feels about the WHO.)  If that person or group of folks had more power, they could do more to contract pandemics like the one we have now.

 

June 29, 2020:

Dick, re the Racism Series:  I very highly recommend watching and sharing the six-part video series.   I think our country is finally at a place where we can constructively deal with our history.

Jeff sent along a link to a pretty remarkable commentary from the New York Times that gets right to the point, and I hope you read it, you can access here. (Opinion: You Want a Confederate Monument?  My Body Is A Confederate Monument by Caroline Randall Williams NYT June 26, 2020.).   A friend, embarking on a major international project, writes: “Wow, thank you for sharing, this text is very powerful.  I love it“.

As a nation, we need to confront the sordid reality of our entire history, pre-dating our becoming a nation.  The Civil War is only a tiny part of that history.  All of the history is part of all of us, in many ways.

Dick, re the COVID-19 Webcast: I  watched/listened twice to the Uncommon Knowledge webcast from the Hoover Institution at Stanford..  This was a serious and civil conversation about a very serious topic, and was an “easy listen”.  I’d hope you listened as well.  We are all becoming ‘experts’ in this topic from living within it.  Most of us, apparently, will not feel the drastic effects of COVID-19, but hundreds of thousands here, and millions world-wide, will succumb (the U.S. has less than 5% of the world’s population, but have much more than a proportionate share of the victims.) In our country certain groups are ultimately most at risk.  This data is easily found.  But, because a small minority of us will ultimately die of COVD-19, it is easy to dismiss it as a problem, thus spikes here and there, and it will continue on into the fall and winter.  At 80, in one of those “certain groups”, I watch it very nervously, and try to act reasonably, and avoid mistakes.

There are endless opinions, each as valid (or invalid) as the next.  Here are some of my own:

  1. COVID-19 has high-lighted the absolute need for strong federal government leadership with coordinated cooperative effort.  We cannot succeed with competing teams, and efforts delegated out to individual states, as has been our tendency these first months of the pandemic.  We are paying a heavy price.  There are indisputable facts, including that the crisis plans prepared by the previous administration, and passed along to the present, were declined and discarded by the incoming administration, making it necessary to start over.  Divided and fractionated we are all losing.
  2. Ditto for our world-class medical system which has had to weather its own crises in many of its centers, and is now financially struggling, in some cases, for its very survival.  Basic health care for all is under attack in the U.S. Supreme Court at the very time it is most needed by ordinary Americans.  Medical care, too, has to be more centralized and supported.  Disease, too, spreads from one to another, without regard to boundaries.  Early on I observed that most every community has an existing infrastructure prepared for a hopefully very rare crisis:  one such is called a fire department.  In my town of 60,000+ residents, I can only recall a single major fire in many years here…but that doesn’t mean we don’t need fire trucks and the like.  You can’t prepare for crises after the fact.  “Government” has an important role.
  3. At this moment, I think most about the people, like my dentist, whose job involves up close and personal interaction with people like myself, strangers, hopefully honestly presenting ourselves as ‘healthy and well today’.  Obviously dentists work in people mouths – pretty difficult to social distance.  There is no mandatory pre-testing for someone like myself – only a temperature check and a personally completed yes-or-no check list.
  4. One of my daughters is Principal of a Middle School nearby.  Their summer is dominated by making alternative plans for the coming school year.  They are to prepare three plans for varied possibilities.  How does one manage 1000 kids about age 12-14 in community together?  It is daunting.
  5. Then there are the millions of others in the work force, medical and otherwise, who don’t have the luxury I do of not having to go to work, or being able to live in a home with only one other person, and being able to control meetings with others, most of whom are strangers.  We all know who the vulnerable populations are, and why: the poor, folks in low-wage jobs where social distancing is not an option, etc.   We have good friends who own businesses for whom the crises have created serious problems not of their own making.  One of these friends, Ruhel Islam, was front page news in today’s Minneapolis paper.  “My” coffee shop is getting busier, but only take out – “My” table and the others are not available. Everyone deserves our particular consideration in these difficult times, which are by no means over.
  6. Early on I saw a piece of sidewalk art,”we will get through this together”.  And we are.  We cannot pretend we are just individuals.  Here’s the photo, from April 8.

At entrance to Carver Park walking trail, Woodbury MN April 8, 2020.

POSTNOTE: The Photo of the Army guy and the shack:  A long-ago snapshot stuck in my mind is the one included above in this post, taken 58 years ago, May 1962, somewhere in the Tarryall section of the Colorado Rockies.  The subject is myself; a soldier friend used my camera.  We were on Army training maneuvers; it was a nice Sunday, and we had time off.  There was nowhere to go, nothing to do.

We could walk around, and in sight was the abandoned shack, and not far from it, a shack occupied by an authentic mountain man, with his dog and a beast of burden, perhaps a donkey.  Some miles away, down a gradual treeless slope, we could make out a very small town.  If memory serves. it was Jefferson, Colorado, hardly more than. wide spot in the road.

The man was friendly, and we chatted for a while.  (Sorry, I was too bashful to ask to take his picture.). There was one snippet of dialogue that has stuck with me to this day:  the man was describing his simple life, and he said that once a month he would go into Jefferson to provision up.  One of the provisions was always the previous month editions of the Denver Post.  Back at his shack, he would read the Posts, one issue at a time, the oldest first.  This meant he was always up to date, one month behind!

I think of that in this day of constantly ‘breaking news’, available instantly, everywhere.  Back then, I remember musing that if there was  a world-shaking development, it might have happened a month before the mountain man heard about it….

Sometime in my long-ago I came to a personal conclusion that everything does indeed have “a purpose under heaven”.  (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-10).  For me this manifested in a personal epiphany, which has played out numerous times over the years, including now.  As I describe it “there is no such thing as ‘coincidence’.”   Everything has meaning, an opportunity to learn.

Perhaps there is an intentionality to the pandemic, and George Floyd, and that long ago photo I’ve just described and most everything else in our ives.  Just perhaps there is a message worth heeding….

At my coffee shop June 24 “my table” in foreground. I noticed the “Herd”, which likely pre-dated “herd immunity” since the coffee shop is “Caribou Coffee”

 

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