I hope everyone had great holidays and 2021 is off to a great start. This blog will be public January 7.  I pray the transfer of power has been accomplished peacefully by that time. We should also know the results of the Georgia Senate runoff by that time.

I am having my procedure to remove my melanoma on January 15. I thought it was going to be January 5. I was not sure how I would feel so I wrote this before I could know what was happening with politics.

Thanks to all who have expressed their concern for my well-being as well as Jeny’s.

My consultation was excellent. Although Melanoma is a serious form of cancer, mine is a stage 0. It has not breached the skin. He will cut me and I should be good to go until the next health issue.

60 Minutes. I was stunned by the 60 Minutes show Sunday. Two different people demonstrated the power of conspiracy theories and social media to ruin lives.

Maatje Benassi was on the Army cycling team. Maatje is a Dutch immigrant, American citizen and soldier who served in Iraq. In 2019, during an international military Olympics, she crashed in Wuhan, where COVID-19 was discovered two months later.  Her problems with the social media began after an innocent article about the race. A conspiracy theorist invented a hoax claiming she brought COVID-19 into the world; a complete falsehood, but one some believed.

Over 70 videos on U-tube and other outlets have expanded the false claims. The result – death threats against Maatje and her husband Matt. They live in fear for their lives.

Lenny Posner lost his son in the Sandy Hook grade school massacre. He was accused of making it up. He was accused of being an actor who stage the incident for the benefit of the “Deep State.” Another complete falsehood. He has had to move seven times and is actively pursued by people making death threats.

The problem is complicated. How can we protect people against social media attacks and still protect the first amendment? How can we regulate social media without creating another huge bureaucracy and thus bigger government?

We would not need regulation if hearts changed, but I do not see that developing in the near future.

COVID got very personal. After several near-deaths of friends and family due to COVID, I final faced a death. David Hartman (not the actor), a good friend for 70 years died from COVID on New Years’ Eve.

That same day we ate out. I am still appalled with the disregard shown by some people. A group of six walked into the restaurant without masks and went to their table with an arrogant air about themselves.

To understand my anger at those who have disregard for the dangers of COVID consider the following from one of my favorite authors, Tony Hillerman. Before he died, he wrote a series of mysteries set in New Mexico. He wrote tales that were culturally accurate to the Native American traditions of the region. The First Nation tribe he covered the most was the Navajo tribe.

The following is a wonderful statement he wrote in “The Ghostway.” The statement is taken from one of the Navaho ceremonies:

“When the dung beetle moves know that something has moved it. And know that its movement affects the flight of the sparrow, and know that the raven deflects the eagle from the sky and that the eagle’s stiff wing bends the will of the Wind People, and know that all this affects you and me, and the flea on the prairie dog, and the leaf on the cottonwood.”

The lesson is — we live in undeniable connectedness. The lesson directly applies to the COVID situation. If a COVID cell affects one person and that person does not take precautions, then roommates get infected, then roommates’ girlfriends, sororities, parents, etc, etc, etc. Even if only one in a hundred who contracts the virus dies as a result of the selfishness of the first person, the first person has some responsibility for that death.

I could not live with myself if I knew I did not do everything I could to prevent the spread because I might bear some responsibility for another person’s death.

My Life is Good — Even with COVID. Recently I wrote poem about 2020. Afterward, I chided myself – my poem took a more negative view of my circumstances than my life deserved. I may have had to give up a few things but all of my needs were met. The closest I came to missing a need was no electricity for 24 hours after a hurricane. Not really a tough life.

I should not moan about paying a deductible fee for hurricane damage to our beach cottage when many do not have a first home and fewer have a second home.

It made me think – COVID or no COVID — many people have lived for years in need of food, shelter, energy, health, safety, medical care and/or safety.  I missed none of those last year.

Sure, I missed some trips. Thousands miss trips every year because they cannot afford them.

Sure, I missed close encounters with loved ones. Thousands of orphans, refugees and abused people have no loving encounters because they have no one who loves them.

To put it all in perspective for me I came to the realization – our dog has a better life than millions of Americans and billions of people world-wide. My poem, while true, did not represent a perspective of the great blessings I have.

My resolution to start 2021 is  to count my blessings rather than my woes.

If you are ever interested in reading one of my poems, just let me know. I will be glad to forward a copy. If I put it into my blog, some sources will not consider it for publication.

Our minister is on vacation this week and asked me to preach. If you would like to hear the muttering of an old man, you can go on Facebook to Providence Presbyterian Church, Mobile Al. and watch the video live at 9:15 am Sunday or by tape any time after that.




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