A Cold Solder Connection

New Zealand just marked the passage of 100 days free from Covid-19, and we congratulate them. We can take heart that the virus can be overcome. We can, perhaps, accept a measure of chagrin for our own handling of the crisis, and by “chagrin,” I mean “disappointment or anger, especially when caused by failure or mistake.”

New Zealand reacted quickly and decisively at the beginning of the pandemic. In late March, when only 100 people had been infected, they imposed a strict lockdown and stopped the virus in its tracks. For the past three months, their only cases have been travelers returning from abroad.

New Zealand’s rallying cry was “go hard and go early.” Their success has been attributed to a combination of science, coherent leadership and a population willing to endure short term discomfort for long term gain. Read that again, slowly.

While New Zealand enjoys a return to normalcy and an economy rebounding from losses less severe than the rest of the west, here at home we’re still indulging in conspiracy theories and arguing about masking or not masking like Lilliput and Blefuscu fought over which end of an egg should be cracked. While we argued and dithered, the Kiwis embraced the suck and took their medicine. It worked. Quickly. And they did it without losing their autonomy to the secret illuminati conspiracy intent on destroying America with six-inch squares of fabric.

“Not a fair comparison! New Zealand only has 5 million residents, and we have 315 million!” That’s a fact. But the truth is, there are rural counties in Georgia with a population density like New Zealand but a death rate that is higher than many metropolitan areas. Try again.

“It’s Trump’s fault. If he had…or if he hadn’t…” There is some truth there, but not the whole truth. The president did minimize the problem at first, and passed the buck to the governors at a time when national leadership was needed. I know, Orange Man Bad,  but he’s not the first president to minimize a crisis in an election year. Every politician knows that we vote from short term memory. That doesn’t make it right, but we’re left with one less “unprecedented” to break the news.

Many of our governors get failing marks too. They had full authority to address the problems, but not enough real bucks were passed with the accountability buck, so they lacked the resources. Some governors passed the buck to their mayors; some turned their nursing homes into death camps, and some decided to waste time and credibility arguing with their mayors. Funny, how that “states’ rights” and “distribution of power” philosophy seems to evaporate on its way down the food chain, but those of us standing at the end of the line have received mixed messages since the beginning. We’ll try again.

“I blame all those republicans who refused to wear masks.” Nope. Try again. Only 73% percent of democrats are wearing masks (unless they are on vacation or protesting) and 60% of republicans, although that second number is likely to tick up, especially among older Americans.

“I don’t care what ‘your’ scientists say. This is all a hoax to see how far they can go to control us. The flu kills a lot more people even though there is a vaccine for that. There’s a doctor in Barbados who says masks aren’t effective. Google it and see for yourself!”

My answer to that is simply:  New Zealand. Did the hard thing. Sky didn’t fall. Life returning to normal. Next!

“Why do you hate America!??”

When you hear that, it often means you’ve struck a nerve. It’s painful when the facts challenge your beliefs, isn’t it!  I love this country, and you do too or you wouldn’t have read this far. Some of the most talented, generous and compassionate people in the world live here, and the system of government we developed is the best model for a free society ever devised. When you genuinely love someone, you love them enough to tell them when they have done wrong. You don’t try to destroy them so you can start over with new friends or a new family. You lift them up and try to help them heal.

All of the alleged culprits mentioned above may have contributed to our ongoing troubles to some degree, and we are dealing with an unknown virus, a chimera that has proven difficult to understand or predict. Feel better now?

Well, New Zealand then. And while they return to normal, we argue passionately about fabric squares and skin pigment and the meaning of words. We’re pressured to erase our history, regardless of the cautionary tales that accompany it, and educated fools attempt to deconstruct our very language to reprogram our thinking from the foundation up, and all of this is delivered to us through our click-for-profit pixel peddlers.

“America is a melting pot,” or so we’ve heard for most of our lives. It certainly looks like that when we browse the pixel images or channel surf the pixel programming. But here in the real world, we have functioned more like a cold solder connection – shiny on the surface but unable to conduct electricity.

You get a cold solder connection when your soldering tip isn’t hot enough. This can happen when you’re too tired or lazy to properly maintain your equipment. For a generation or two we indulged in contentment without properly maintaining the equipment necessary for the next generations to enjoy the same benefits, and our bench is covered with cheap tools peddled by Washington and Wall Street.

As always, we have a choice. We can affect the necessary repairs. We can accept only quality tools. Or not. If we don’t, if we continue to dissipate our energies in fruitless argument, instead of achieving a melting pot we’ll endure another decade of smoldering slag, and our cold solder connection will be insufficient to conduct the business of the next crisis.  Or we’ll kindle a fire so hot it will create some unknown new alloy while destroying much of what we hold dear. There are some who prefer the latter, and we immediately know two things about such people: They have no skin in the game, and they expect their own skins will somehow remain beyond the reach of the flames.

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