Standing up and standing out

By Reade Brower | Mar 19, 2020

This week it is all about the coronavirus. Last week’s column was about mischief and mayhem in a closet; one reader was critical that I write about anything other than the impending threat of COVID-19.

Being a layman and someone who prefers to look at what is, rather than imagine all the worst scenarios, leaving that to the experts seemed like the best way to go. I stand by that with an opinion that says we must live on a tightwire, listening to the experts, doing what they tell us, and not panic. Panic is about the worst way to cope with a pandemic.

Watching Italians singing from their porches during their country's lockdown is moving; hiding in our homes, with no laughter or joy, does not create humanitarian moments that will help us move through the abyss.

When the medicine becomes more potent than the disease, real trouble surrounds us. So, how do we create the balancing act in the world of common sense; that is the question. How much will shutting down the economy and our school systems hurt us? Or, is it smart to hit this virus in the throat (literally)? Or is there an in between?

This temporary separation can and will bring us together. We live in such a polarizing time that this might be the “godsend” the country needs. Though it is said we shouldn’t politicize this, it is hard not to because this boils down to philosophy and who you trust and believe.

It is hard to believe in our president because truth is not only not his strong suit; it is something he is incapable of because his moral compass has made his entire life about everything and how it affects him. Trump fits the definition of a narcissist.

His weak response in the beginning (yes he closed off China, for political reasons as well as safety, but what else did he do except minimize this?) is perhaps his biggest failing. He promised us it would be over in the spring. He told us it was nothing and that he was doing a great job. He told us he alone had built the greatest economy in history and not to worry.

In every speech he gave, he continued to shake hands, refusing testing even as those around him were testing positive, costing valuable days/weeks but, more importantly, costing us the trust we need in our president to just do the right thing, regardless of the economic impact or what it might cost politically.

Testing was promised but, until today, had not been a deliverable. The Trump administration's biggest failing was firing the U.S. pandemic response team in 2018 to cuts costs and create resources for his border walls. Rather than protecting his citizens from within, the fear of keeping out immigrants migrating through Mexico cost us dearly. This program was designed for exactly COVID-19 virus; it was disbanded because Trump doesn’t believe in science and is agenda-driven, not motivated by commonsense principles. The worst part is that Trump feigned ignorance when asked about this; not taking accountability for disbanding this department.

Instead of readiness and a team prepping for this kind of pandemic, we saw people in airports stuck in five-hour lines, in close proximity to each other, even sharing pens, so they could be asked a couple of mundane questions and have their temperatures taken. Instead of separate queues by country, all passengers joined together in tight lines that were not moving.

This was a case where the medicine was worse than the disease. The idea of screening people when they get off a plane from a foreign country is sound; but if the implementation is not thought out or planning done in a hurry, more harm than good can be the outcome.

Think about a balance beam: 18 inches from the ground, it is not imposing. Put that beam at 40 feet and ask the same person to walk across it, a completely different experience. That’s where fear enters and is not an ally. Fear is only a friend when it keeps your common sense in tow.

This is not about Trump-bashing; it is about the truth. Trump, when asked about the disbanding of this unit, took no responsibility for it, continuing to tell us, like his call to Ukraine, everything he’s done and is doing is “perfect.”

It’s not and there is no accountability for it. Instead, every day last week there was a parade, led by Vice President Pence, all prefacing their remarks with glowing tributes to the man they work for, President Trump. It feels to this columnist that’s the most important piece to them, not the response, not how to keep us safe, but how to make the president look good.

So this is about politics because it comes down to trust. Who do you trust to tell us the truth; common sense says that’s all that matters.


“He who establishes his argument by noise and command, shows that his reason is weak.” — Michel De Montaigne, essayist (1533-1592)

Comments (3)
Posted by: Lynette Walther | Mar 20, 2020 14:58

Well said.

Posted by: Lynette Walther | Mar 20, 2020 14:58

Well said.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Mar 20, 2020 13:47

The cream of the crop.
Is rising to the top!!

What made me happy was to see the job Rich Norman had done organizing St, Bernards' Soup Kitchen during this difficult time. They served beef stroganoff and New England boiled dinner this week. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to go hungry here in mid-coast Maine.

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