I hope everyone’s new year is off to a great start. Jeny is getting her hair back after her chemotherapy, so our world is getting better. She hoped for black and curly. It is white and straight, but she will take it.

Divisiveness. A former student and good friend chided me about the data I presented last week. He was concerned that the study I presented showing more deaths in Trump counties than Biden counties was divisive.

He made me very happy by reminding me that long ago I taught him about the possibility of confounding variables in a correlational study. He gave several possible accounts for the results.

He was also concerned about the possible bias in the people conducting the research. To that point, I checked with our granddaughter who “mines” large data bases for her career. She assured me the foundational data for the research could be found in unbiased public sources. Election data is public and reported by county. COVID data is public and reported by county. Anyone could perform the correlation. The study was not a bias survey by a far-left organization.

My friend thought the presentation took away from my primary point. We live with freedom. We depend on cooperation rather than coercion to fight the pandemic.  Since many people for various reason are not getting vaccinations, wearing masks and taking other steps, one of the consequences is increased occurrence of COVID and increased deaths.

He is correct about divisiveness. I am fighting divisiveness. I should have looked for another way to make my point.

I do not want to encourage divisiveness but I do want us to recognize the increased risks when we live in a society with more freedom.

Bridging the divide. As an aside, 60 Minutes on Sunday January 9, had an excellent segment on “One Small Step.” I encourage everyone to look at it. It is one man’s idea to overcome our divides by having people conduct face-to-face conversations.

The link to a manuscript of the segment is:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/bridging-americas-political-divide-with-conversations/ar-AASBktp?ocid=uxbndlbing

 Coercion vs. cooperation. I sent my friend an email reply, thanking him and addressing his concerns.  In an interesting “coincidence,” in the moments after I sent him the email I went to my inbox. The very first email was from another friend and it contained a link to the following very interesting site:

https://www.propublica.org/article/i-saw-firsthand-what-it-takes-to-keep-covid-out-of-hong-kong-it-felt-like-a-different-planet

The article is written by an American citizen, He reports the measures he faced during a visit to his Hong Kong family. Hong Kong is now under the authoritarian regime of China. The people obviously have far fewer freedoms than we do. The restrictions are certainly obvious in the extreme steps required for him to enter Hong Kong and the measures required of the people living there.

The population of Hong Kong is 8.5 million people. They report having had 12,700 cases of COVID and 213 deaths. New York City has a population of 8.4 million people. They report 1.7 million cases and 36,400 deaths.

There may be some underreporting and overreporting, but it would take many huge errors to make up the difference between 213 deaths and 36,400 deaths.

I am not suggesting Hong Kong is a better place to live. I am not suggesting we should institute draconian measures in the US. I am saying – we live in a free society where we depend on cooperation rather than coercion. When people do not cooperate toward a common goal there are consequences. This is true whether it is fighting COVID or trying to win playing a team sport.

Another example. In thinking about the cost of freedom, I thought about driving. Driving depends upon cooperation.

We expect people to cooperate by obeying stoplights, driving the speed limit, not driving impaired, not driving distracted, following the proper distance and not cutting off other cars.

We could have more coercive measures. We could have traffic cameras on every stop light and give tickets every time someone runs a red light. We could build cars that only go 70 miles per hour. We could install breathalyzer tests in order for every car to start.   We could disable cell phones when driving. We could have GPS measures for following the proper distance and cutting people off.

We don’t and people are free to run red lights, speed excessively, drive impaired, drive distracted, follow too close and cut off other drivers. Free that is –unless they are caught.

The important question is – if everyone cooperatively obeyed stoplights, honored the speed limits, drove unimpaired, did not drive distracted, followed properly and did not cut off other people. would we still have 40,000 people killed a year? I do not know but I seriously doubt it.

To me this is another example of the cost of freedom.  Freedom is not free. Freedom always has consequences. I want to live in the United States. I just believe we should be honest about freedom’s consequences for our lives.

The bottom line. To me, cooperation verses coercion is a spiritual issue. When needed, I believe volunteer cooperation is caring for my neighbors.

The Wrap

If you see misleading headlines, have a coincidence occur or have good news to share, please pass it along.

Bad headline of the week. “Cowboy fans question McCarthy decisions.” I would have been much happier with SOME Cowboy fans question McCarthy decisions.

Coincident of the week. I preached at a small, historically Black church last weekend. When I arrived the order of worship and hymn selections had been made by an elder without any consultation with me. I could have suggested the prayer of confession and the hymns, but did not. She did a great job.

The “coincidence” came at the end of the service. The final point in my sermon was how difficult it is to meet The Great Commandment to “Love the Lord God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength,” because of that little three-letter word ALL. Giving ALL is very, very difficult for an imperfect person like me.

After I ended the sermon, out of the several hundred hymns in the hymnal, she had selected the hymn “Jesus is Lord of All.”

Good news:

Whenever we visited our granddaughter Andrea in Boulder, Colorado, we went through the area devastated by the recent fire. This is a very touching story about a young person with a big heart responding to one part of the fire’s devastation.

12-Year-Old Paints Memory Peg Dolls For People Who Lost Pets In Marshall Fire (sunnyskyz.com)

Many years ago, I remember walking across an ice-covered river and hearing the ice crack. I weighed considerably less in those days. Thankfully the ice did not break. Several heroes in this story.

Bystander Rescues 3 Kids From Icy Pond, Deputies Bring One Back To Life With CPR (sunnyskyz.com)

The recent snow storm in the northeast caused lots of problems. Many people were generous and loving in several ways in the problems with that storm. Here are just a couple of stories., both worth a few moments of your time.

Uber Driver Stranded On I-95 Buys Teen Passenger Hotel Room (sunnyskyz.com)

https://www.sunnyskyz.com/good-news/4519/Truck-Driver-Delivers-Bread-By-Foot-To-Stranded-Motorists-On-Interstate

Frozen ponds, snow stranded people—stay warm out there.

Peace

Jerry


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