At a time when we, the people, can’t find a way to completely agree on anything, there’s one thing on which everyone can agree. We live in very strange times.
Whatever you choose to believe, on whatever basis you choose to believe it, the world has, from your own individual perspective, seemingly gone mad. Maybe you believe a presidential election has been stolen through the widespread, electronic, Ferris-Bueller-changing-his-grades-style adjustment of votes. Maybe you believe the claims of election fraud are themselves fraudulent, and that those efforts are every bit as embarrassing as they are relentless. Maybe you believe the pandemic is a hoax. Maybe you believe that it’s the most serious public-health crisis we’ve faced in more than 100 years, made more serious by the fact that so many people don’t take it seriously.
This message isn’t for those who have made up their minds and will never change them, regardless of any clear, cold, objective proof that may otherwise emerge. We mostly have become the United States of La-La-La-Not-Listening, with thumbs plugged in our ears and middle fingers pointed at anyone with a different point of view.
But something occurred to me yesterday afternoon. With Thanksgiving week upon us, and with the CDC recently urging Americans to not travel for the holiday (yes, it would have been nice if that request had come before plane tickets were purchased) and the nationwide infection rate soaring, maybe there’s someone out there who’s on the fence about what to do this week. A single, isolated needle in a haystack where half of the hay hates the other half.
This one is for you, Mr. or Ms. Haystack Needle. This is the sign you’ve been looking for to help you decide what to do this week.
Don’t do it. Don’t go over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house, don’t go. Don’t get on a plane or a train or an automobile. Stay home. Stay put. Spend Thanksgiving around those with whom you’ve been spending the current Twilight Zone existence.
The clouds are indeed beginning to part. Vaccines are coming. There will be a future without covered mouths and shuttered restaurants. But it’s important to do what you can to limit the ongoing spread now, because plenty of people who have been persuaded from the get-go that the pandemic is the flu or fake news will be using the great American tradition of gluttony and football as an excuse for attending what will become thousands of mashed potato Petri dishes on Thursday, with the virus then carried back to wherever the travelers came.
By early December, infection rates to which we’ve all become numb will skyrocket even farther. More will become sick. More will suffer. More will die.
It’s not exactly the message anyone wants to hear on the first day of what usually is a week of relaxing, being with family, and finding some semblance of happiness (except when topics like this come up at the dinner table). I’ve mentioned all of this for one purpose and one purpose only: To get the attention of the one person out there — and you know who you are — who will see these words and realize that the right thing to do is to sit this one out.
Thanksgiving ultimately is just a day. It will come and go and by next Sunday we’ll be getting ready for another full slate of football games. While the damage already will have been done by those who will continue to regard the virus as not real or at a minimum not serious, the one person who sees this and decides not to travel, not to gather indoors with a group of people who haven’t been living together, not to roll the dice with the existences of the most fragile and frail among us can make a huge difference within his or her own small universe. Even if you’ll never know for sure whether the decision to stay put this week saved the life of someone you love, you’ll know once Thanksgiving has come and gone that you did the right thing.
For you, that one person out there who is capable of being persuaded one way or the other, please, do the right thing this week.