Want and Need

I have blogged several times over the years about the important distinction between what we want and what we need. I usually couch the discussion in the context of education where I note that children should be taught what they need in order to become autonomous adults rather than what they want as children with passing whims. The distinction has always seemed to me to be at the heart of education and a possible suggestion as to why the United States now trails many of the other “developed” countries in educating the young. Our schools (and our parents, by the way) are focused on what the young want and afraid to demand that they study those subjects they will need later on in life. The parents give into their kids for a variety of reasons, but largely because  they think it will buy their children’ love or because that is what the so-called experts have told them is the proper thing to do.

Now comes the coronavirus and the following story tells us that the chickens seem to have come home to roost — at least in Wisconsin:

Wisconsin saw a record number of new coronavirus cases and deaths reported in a single day on Wednesday, two weeks after the state’s Supreme Court struck down its statewide stay-at-home order.

The state reported 599 new known COVID-19 cases on Wednesday with 22 known deaths, according to Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services, the highest recorded daily rise since the pandemic began there. As of Wednesday, the state had more than 16,460 known cases and 539 known deaths, according to the department.

In a word, the folks in Wisconsin were disturbed enough about being told they must be quarantined in order to help control the virus that they went to court to have the regulation removed so they could go about their business as usual. Well, they went back to business as we can expect it when we take off our rose-colored glasses.

I dare say the same results will or would happen in Michigan where armed protesters stormed the governor’s office to demand that the quarantine be lifted in that state. It’s what we want.

But it is not what we need. When will we learn?

I am not a big fan of the government telling us how to live our lives, but in this case we are talking about older folks and folks with previous medical conditions whose lives are at stake if we simply continue to act on impulse and pretend that the virus isn’t there. Even John Stuart Mill, the arch-defender of libertarian values would agree that where the health and well-being of others is involved laws and  regulations are required — and morally justified.

So many of the young (especially) believe that the virus will not affect them seriously and have decided that they will take a chance. They forget, or ignore the fact, that they might carry the virus to a grandmother or a grandfather, or someone they are close to who suffers from, say, asthma. And those persons may well die because of the kids’ determination to do what they want.

But that’s what they have been taught in the home as well as in school. Just tell those in positions of authority what you want and they will deliver it to you. If they pretend not to hear, shout louder or, possibly, bring a weapon.

The chickens, as I said, have come home to roost.

Sarcasm

In my last post I ended with a sarcastic question — after describing the difficult and time-consuming effort an old lady made to climb into her van and drive away from the grocery store. I asked “And she still drives. Isn’t it wonderful?” That was sarcasm, though at least one reader took me seriously and added her praise to the seeming compliment I was paying the old lady.

To be sure the older drivers show an indomitable spirit. And as an older driver myself I can easily understand why no one wants to give up the privilege and independence of driving one’s own car. However, there comes a point where the license should be denied older folks — that point where their presence on the roads poses a danger to others. Let me give you a specific example.

I have a very dear friend who has been blind from birth. His is indeed an indomitable spirit as he refuses to admit that there is anything he cannot do. With another friend he spent one supper re-shingling roofs in the town where they both live. He taught himself to use power tools and regularly repairs clocks. He is a marvel. I posted a blog about him several years ago. But I didn’t mention the following incident.

One day as he was walking home with his beloved dog from the Food Shelf where he volunteers, he stoped at a traffic light to wait for the red light to stop the crossing traffic. The light turned green for those on the street next to him and red for the cross-traffic. He stepped out to cross the road and an old man who had been sitting at the red light made a right turn into him destroying his hearing aids, tearing his minuscule, and hurting his dog — who died from internal injuries a few weeks later.

The man insisted to the police who soon arrived that he had a green light and was perfectly within his rights to turn his car onto the cross-road. Days later, when my friend went to the man’s house to assure him that he was not going to sue him (though he had grounds to do so) the man was still professing his innocence.

So I have little patience with those who think it wonderful that old folks drive a car and I will soon have a painful decision to make myself in this regard if I want to avoid being called a hypocrite.

The problem, of course, is to determine when to deny the older folks the license to drive. The old man in my example swears to this day that he had a perfect right to harm a blind pedestrian and his dog. I dare say he is not willing to give up his license. But should it not be taken away from him — especially after an accident such as this? I simply ask.

Whatever

I was sitting in my car in the Hy Vee parking lot waiting for my wife to return with the groceries. I was following my oncologist’s orders as I am particularly susceptible to the virus because of the cancer treatment I am undergoing. Apparently my immune system is being weakened by the infusions of radioactive fluid they are pumping into my system and which will do battle with the cancer cells. Hopefully the infusions will win the day. (I do wonder if those who doubt the veracity of science have ever had to entrust their lives to medical science.)

In any event, to while away the minutes I did an informal sociological study, checking to see how many of the customers going in and out were wearing their masks. It was about 50%, which I find disappointing — but not surprising. In the course of this study, two young women (in their 20s?) emerged from the store with their cart, stood in front of the sign telling everyone “one person per cart,” meandered off to their “muscle car” (as we used to call them) and loaded the car before taking off. Neither of them had a mask, of course. Apparently rules are for everyone else.

Soon after a very old woman emerged with a small cart which pretty much held her up as she walked very slowly to her van parked in the handicapped space reserved for older farts like her — and myself. She did have a mask, but she was also painfully slow of movement. After opening up the rear-end of her vehicle and unloading her small packages she stood there holding on to the cart and wondering where to put it. Soon a young man came along (with no mask) and she called him over and asked him to take her cart, which he did. That was nice of him.

The woman then struggled to climb into her van and sat there for at least three or four minutes adjusting things so she would be comfortable as she was driving the vehicle. After that time the door closed and she backed slowly out of her space and very slowly put the car into drive and crept out of the parking lot. She must have been well into her 90s.

And she still drives. Isn’t it wonderful?

Wise Words

I have no idea who wrote the following piece, but it strikes me as worthy of wider dissemination than it has had so far. My son sent it to me the other day and said, simply, “it was written by a co-worker.” It strikes me as particularly important given the fact that we are all feeling fed-up with the coronavirus and all that it entails. We simply cannot wait until things go “back to normal” — refusing to admit to ourselves that there may be no return to normal and that the “new normal” will be like nothing we have ever experienced.

In any event, we wallow in self-pity since few of us has ever had to deny ourselves much of what we want. This is, after all, the “Age of Entitlement” not only in the schools but in the homes as well. We buy on plastic and run up our credit cards rather than wait until we have the money in savings. We want what we want when we want it. Period. We simply cannot wait for tomorrow as today is here and we know what we want and there are always ways to get it. Or so we have been taught.

Except in the present case: the virus seems to be in control and we simply sit at home and express our frustration and impatience. We have very little frame of reference since we are ignorant of history and this piece helps to fill in some of the gaps. Some of them.

Maybe we don’t have it that bad?

It’s a mess out there now. Hard to discern between what’s a real threat and what is just simple panic and hysteria. For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were born in 1900.

On your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday. 22 million people perish in that war. Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. 50 million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million.

On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 33. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy.

When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet. And don’t try to catch your breath, because on your 41st birthday, the United States is fully pulled into WWII. Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war.

Smallpox was an epidemic until you were in your 40’s, as it killed 300 million people during your lifetime.

At 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish. From your birth, until you are 55, you dealt with the fear of Polio epidemics each summer. You experience friends and family contracting polio and being paralyzed or dying.

At 55, the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. 4 million people perish in that conflict. During the Cold War, you lived each day with the fear of nuclear annihilation. On your 62nd birthday you have the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, almost ended. When you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.

Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How did they endure all of that? When you were a kid and didn’t think your 85-year-old grandparent understood how hard school was. Yet they survived through everything listed above. Perspective is an art. Refined and enlightening as time goes on. Let’s try and keep things in perspective. Your parents and grandparents were called on to endure all of the above – You are called on to stay home and sit on your couch.

This too shall pass.

Let’s hope so. In the meantime, let’s also hope we somehow develop the virtue of patience and don’t blindly stumble toward an elusive goal of normalcy before prudence and science tell us it is time.

Blind As A Bat

The owners of baseball teams around the country recently suggested a new model for the players that would involve their taking a pay cut for what will doubtlessly turn out to be a reduced baseball season — assuming that we even have one this year! The payers have yet to vote on the model, but one player, Blake Snell of the Tampa Bay Rays, has had an immediate and telling reaction to the proposal. As we are told in a recent Yahoo News story:

”I’m not playing unless I get mine,’’ Snell proclaimed, saying he would sit out any resumed season if his $7 million pay is cut too much. He said other things, too, but his main point seemed to be that even a pandemic shouldn’t spoil the riches he so richly deserves.

”I’m not splitting no revenue. I want all mine,’’ the 2018 Cy Young winner for Tampa Bay said. “Bro, y’all got to understand, too, because y’all going to be like: ‘Bro, play for the love of the game. Man, what’s wrong with you, bro? Money should not be a thing.’ Bro, I’m risking my life. What do you mean, ‘It should not be a thing?’ It 100% should be a thing.”

Well, maybe not 100%, but let’s try and cut the 27-year-old Snell some slack. Maybe he’s been playing video games so much he hasn’t had time to pick up a newspaper or watch the news on TV.

He might not have seen the headlines that 36.5 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last eight weeks, or the poll that shows 46% without jobs are worried they will not have enough food to make it through the end of the month.

And maybe he didn’t peek into his bank account and notice that $286,500 has already been deposited there for this season without throwing a pitch. He’s also scheduled to get $43,210 for each game – yes, each game – of the schedule should the season resume.

No, it’s not the $7 million he signed up for. But that was silly money even before the virus began spreading across the country.

What we have here is a purblind millionaire athlete who fails to recognize the fact that those around him are suffering from lost income and lost health as a pandemic spreads around the world. As the article says, perhaps he has been playing too many video games and hasn’t taken the time to watch the news.

In any event, the pressure to get baseball payers back on the field is immense as the entire economy, it seems, is in the toilet and such high-ups as Donald Trump have urged the teams, all athletic teams, to get going again. After all, if the economy tanks completely then this president will most assuredly not be re-elected. And that’s what matters. To him.

But the fact of the matter is that the urge to get back to normal — which is strong among spoiled people who are used to getting what they want — is terribly short-sighted. South Korea and China are both currently experiencing a resurgence in the virus after recently opening up a number of public places to hordes of people who are sick and tired of being cooped up for months. It’s understandable that we want things to go back the way they were, but we must realize that this pandemic will not disappear simply because we want it to. And as long as it is a threat to the vulnerable (of which Snell is not included) we must practice the patience we have shown we have very little of.

This is a learning experience for us all, and folks like Snell strike this writer as morally blind and even a bit stupid.

Piece of Trash

A recent story about an upcoming golfing event struck me as most interesting. As we are told:

Vijay Singh is apparently going to participate in the Korn Ferry Challenge — the first Korn Ferry Tour event of the revised season after the COVID-19 hiatus — next month at TPC Sawgrass in Florida.

That move, though, didn’t sit well with at least one other professional golfer, who called Singh “a piece of trash” on Twitter after seeing his name on the list of participants.

Now Vijay Singh, for those of you who are out of touch with golf, is a very wealthy professional golfer who has been playing golf for many years  and decided to crash the Korn Ferry Challenge to tune up his game for an upcoming PGA event. The Korn Ferry tour is something like the minor leagues in baseball — except the players are not paid a salary and must rely on winnings to make ends meet. These are mostly young players who hope one day to play on the much more lucrative PGA tour. In the meantime they play off the stage and out of the spotlight for peanuts.

To get an idea of the vast difference in the size of the purses on the two tours, we might note that the total purse of a single Korn Ferry event is $1 million, with $180,000 going to the winner and the rest of the field receiving proportionally less. By contrast, the total purse on the PGA Championship is $11 million with $1.98  going to the winner — nearly twice as much as the entire purse on a typical Korn Ferry event.

I listened to a discussion of this story on the Golf Channel and it was intriguing. While one of the talking heads, a young woman, defended the young player for trashing Singh another older player defended him on the grounds that there is no rule against his playing and it’s “just how things are.”

The young woman reminded him that during these last couple of months the golfers have all gone without any income whatever and while the very wealthy ones at the top can make do (!) those at the bottom — like those on the Korn Ferry tour, must take other jobs to pay the bills. Many of them have families with young children. Singh is older and very wealthy and, so far as I know, does not have young mouths to feed.

What intrigues me about this is the fact that someone (anyone) could defend Singh for basically elbowing his way into the tournament! And, given that there is a limited number of players who can play the Challenge, he takes the place of a younger player who truly needs the money he might make by winning the tournament — or even placing high in the final standings.

Is it possible that this man doesn’t see the moral problem here? He says Singh is not breaking the rules, and this is true. But doing the right thing is often a matter of ignoring the rules. What we have here is another example of a very wealthy man who fails to recognize the plight of others who are in need.

It makes me just a little bit sick.

Spitting Into the Wind

I went back to the first year of my blogging to find this one which shows how great an impact my posts have had on the education establishment! At the time there was one comment, so I thought it might be of interest to a few others. One never knows.

Some years back the local power company was thinking about putting a coal-burning power plant in a town close to ours. They sent a couple of their suits down to placate the locals and reassure them that all would be well. During the question period that followed their presentation a farmer asked them what would become of the numerous acres that would be taken up by the plant and its holding ponds. The spokesman said he didn’t know, they couldn’t project past five years. The farmer responded that if the land were left alone he could predict with some assurance that the land would still be producing corn and beans. One of the wittiest comebacks I have ever witnessed.

It’s an interesting thing, this business model that doesn’t allow us to predict long-term. It’s all about short-term — which translates into profits and losses. The models that the mathematicians come up with cannot work with too many variables, and as the years are added up the variables begin to outnumber the constants. So prediction becomes difficult, if not impossible (just ask the weather prognosticators!) The business model gives us short-term thinking and quantification. The model works, there is no doubt about it: business has brought great wealth to a few and raised the standard of living for many in this country and around the world. It has even provided us with a paradigm of success, for better or worse. But it has its limitations — as suggested above.

It doesn’t encourage long-term thinking and it seeks to reduce all issues to numbers. The model doesn’t work in contexts other than business — say, education. I have even heard presumed educators talking about students as “our clients.” I kid you not. The problem, of course, is that it has in fact been forced on education and has increased the difficulties the schools are having teaching the young. As though there aren’t enough problems already. The notion that schools have to be held accountable and their “product” evaluated on a scale that can be quantified is absurd. But that’s where we have come, because it’s the only model bureaucrats know.

Moreover, the goal of education — which should be to put young people in possession of their own minds — has become reduced to getting a job. As though we could predict today what the jobs will be when the college Freshman graduates. We lie to them when we lead them to believe that the jobs available now will be available four or five years down the road. Here’s where the business model might be applied in a sensible way.  But we forget our inability to predict long-term in the desire to “sell the product,” which is the latest fashion in education finery — culinology (whatever that is), sports science, marketing, or forestry.

The only thing about the future that we know for sure is that it will change, and the only preparation for change we can urge on today’s students is to learn to think, to express themselves, to calculate, and to understand as much as possible of the world around them. The irony here is that the people who can use their minds are the ones who will get the jobs — the goals of education and job preparation are not necessarily antithetical to one another, as long as we get the priorities straight. But if we stress vocationalism and ignore liberal learning (as we have) we place blinders on the students and decrease their ability to adjust to changing circumstances down the road. If the seventeen-year-old focuses exclusively on, say, office management and then discovers at age 36 that the job is boring — or just not there — she is trapped in a straightjacket. If the focus is on breadth of preparation, the student will be ready for anything.

Short-term thinking, quantification, and the notion that it’s all about jobs are antithetical to education properly understood. The business model works in the world of profits and losses; it doesn’t work in the world of health and human development.

Selling The Product

I wrote this post about propaganda several years ago and with the election facing us in the near future (?) it seems even more relevant today than it was then.

As we all know, propaganda is a concerted effort to get people to believe something and presumably to act on those beliefs. Effective propaganda is based on bombast and rhetoric that appeals to our fears and desires: it may or may not involve blatant falsehoods; usually, it involves half-truths — that is, statements that have a modicum of truth in them and seem plausible if one doesn’t really think about them. And the propagandist does not want listeners to think about what they hear!

Let’s say I want you to vote for my candidate, Jones. Now It is generally known that Jones was divorced a few years ago and later married a woman who had been his secretary. A good propagandist will twist the facts and embellish them so the story comes out that Jones is a womanizer who was unfaithful and left his wife high and dry after his torrid love affair with his secretary in a Miami hotel. If he is the least bit concerned about law suits, he will rely heavily on innuendo — a suggestion that Jones is a womanizer, not a bald-faced statement to that effect (“Jones was seen by several witnesses coming out of a Miami hotel with his secretary several months before his divorce.”). You get the picture: filter in a few “facts” but make sure you create the impression that the man is scum and not worthy of anyone’s vote: use loaded language and strong emotive overtones. The idea is to persuade, not to tell the truth. In fact truth is the real victim here — if it is not Jones.

The radicals just prior to the American revolution had a huge problem: how to persuade the majority of Americans who considered themselves loyal British citizens that they must cut all ties with the mother country and go to war? As a number of historians have noted, the remarkable thing is that the revolution happened at all: Americans really had very few gripes with the mother country and all were of a mind to regard revolution as a last resort. Don’t underestimate the power of words carefully chosen!

To begin with, of course, they stopped calling Britain the “mother country.” They used emotive language, calling Britain “the rotten island” that was out to pillage America and steal its wealth, rape its women and turn its children into slaves. In fact, the propagandists in the mid-eighteenth century used the term “slavery” again and again to great effect. The idea was to instill in the American citizens — many of whom right up to the end, even after Lexington and Concord, regarded themselves as loyal British citizens — a love of liberty and a hatred of England. They insisted that Great Britain would “overwhelm the virtue of the people” of America. As John Miller tells us in his remarkable study of the period (Origins of the American Revolution),

“the America of 1775 was made to appear tied to a bankrupt, rotting state that sought to keep itself alive by sucking the strength from its colonies.” Further, “every shilling squeezed from the colonies, Americans were told, went to ‘tyrants and debauchees‘ and was spent on vices that would have made Nero blush.”

Note the clever use of exaggeration and bombast: arouse the emotions of the listener or reader and generate a hatred of the desired object, Britain. And keep stressing Britain’s desire to tax Americans, to reduce Americans to slavery. Sound familiar?

It worked, of course, as millions of Americans in a very brief period were persuaded to go to war against the most powerful nation on earth — a nation that had only yesterday been a trusted ally of the colonists and their protector against a hostile world, expelling the French from the continent not many years prior. It is indeed food for thought. With Thomas Paine’s Common Sense in the lead the rebels were not the only effective propagandists the world has ever known but they did perform an amazing turnaround in a very short time. And it was done without radio or TV. Truly remarkable.

We need to think about this at this time because there are unscrupulous people who are busy marketing their politicians like boxes of cereal and they desperately want to sell them to us without letting us know what the ingredients are. And the underlying rule is: the end justifies the means. It matters not if what we say is true, we shall repeat it often enough that people will come to believe it in the end. If it turns out later to be false, it will be too late: strike quickly and often and repeat the message until it is no longer questioned. The last thing the propagandist wants is for the listener, viewer, or reader to think about what is said. Logic and reasoning have no place at the table of the propagandist: it’s all about persuasion at any cost. Be on your guard! It’s out there and it’s out to get your vote!

Picture Puzzles

There is little doubt that the novels of Joseph Conrad will soon gather dust in forgotten sections of the few remaining libraries around the world. For one thing, Conrad’s novels have been castigated by China Achebe, who tells us that we should not read Conrad’s masterpiece Heart of Darkness because the author has the audacity to use the “N” word  with abandon. This is absurd, of course, and I have defended Conrad in print against this attack. But Achebe’s essay is much read while mine also gathers dust in libraries around the world. So it goes.

But, more to the present point, Conrad’s novels will not be read because the novelist was an impressionist, which is to say, he demands of the reader that he or she engage their imagination in order to enter the world the novelist has created. He hints and suggests rather than describing in detail; he allows the reader to infer from the written words what it is that has not been written. And while it is certainly the case that there are fewer and fewer readers of books it is even more certain that there are fewer and fewer of those who have the capacity to engage Conrad’s novels or indeed any work of art with his or her imagination. The problem is, of course, that our imaginations have become shriveled by the entertainment industry which is convinced that the more graphic and vivid the entertainment the more success it will have. God forbid that we should have to make an effort!

This is a shame because the world of the artist is a richer and fuller one than the one we occupy in our ordinary goings and comings. But it demands that we pay attention and that we imagine what is NOT being said.

In Heart of Darkness, for example, we are taken into the world of avarice and greed on a major scale as Europe is in the process of pillaging the world of Darkness in order to make a buck — the only real value that seems to be shared among those who are not the exploited of this world. In that novel, the hero, Marlowe, is seeking out the man Kurtz who has disappeared and, because he has been very successful in bringing tons of ivory back to Belgium, is sought by the company — if he is still alive. Marlowe wends his way past villages that have  been laid waste by greedy Europeans; he eventually finds himself approaching the hut where he is told Kurtz is to be found. He describes the sight as he approaches:

“You remember I told you I had been struck at the distance by certain attempts at ornamentation, rather remarkable given the ruinous aspect of the place. Now I had suddenly a nearer view, and its first result was to make me throw my head back as though from a blow. Then I went carefully from post to post [in front of the hut] with my glass and saw my mistake. Those round knobs were not ornamental but symbolic; they were expressive and puzzling, striking and disturbing — food for thought and also for the vultures if there had been any looking down from the sky; but at all events for such ants as were industrious enough to ascend the poles. They would have been even more impressive, those heads on the stakes, if their faces had not been turned toward the house. Only one, the first I had made out, was facing my way.”

The passage goes on for a bit, but Conrad does not describe the orgies and the murder of the blacks that Kurtz was engaged in to satisfy his sensualism and greed, his lust for human flesh and elephant tusks, not to mention his contempt for the blacks he exploited. Conrad demands that we imagine for ourselves. Can we do that any longer? I do wonder.

Another impressionistic novel that I finished lately also provides us with bits and pieces and asks us to out them together to form a complete picture. I speak of the Nobel Prize winner Yusunari Kawabata’s Thousand Cranes — which draws on the Japanese Tea Ceremony to assist us in putting the pieces together. Doubtless it is more difficult for us Westeners to do without the proper indoctrination into the complexities of those ceremonies, but it is made even more difficult because  most of us are forced to read the original in translation. Those difficulties aside, we must, above all else, think and attend carefully to what is said in order to imagine what is not being said.

Toward the end of the novel, Kikuji, the hero of the novel, has found his way into the interior of himself and realizes that the woman Fumiko is the one person in the world for whom he is able to feel real love. As he approaches her house very near the end of the novel he discovers from a young girl that Fumiko has “gone away with a friend.” Kikuji realizes at once that this means the Fumiko, like her mother, has taken her own life. Kawabata does not spell this out for us. He suggests it, as does Conrad in Heart of Darkness, and we are left with the terrible awareness of the emptiness in the man’s soul — a sense that comes to us as we put together the pieces the author has provided us with, using our imagination.

Kawabata’s novels, like Conrad’s, will also gather dust on the shelves of libraries around the world — in the East no less than the West, as we can infer (even at this distance) from the impact Western capitalism has had on the orient. For better or worse — and many a Japanese writer suggests that it is worse, much worse — the East is being informed by the West and Western values, such as they are. But in any event, both novelists demand that we use our imaginations and we are slowly but surely losing the ability to do that. How sad.

Revisiting Heroes

I have written several times about what it makes to be a hero. It is more than wearing camouflage and holding a flag at sporting events — though we are told that our armed forces are all heroes. In a sense they are (or at least some of them are)– in the sense that they are doing something they may or may not like to do in order to foster the greater good.

And we are now being told that doctors and nurses, indeed the entire “health care” family, are all heroes. And they are, though I am not sure we need to be reminded of it every few minutes on the boob tube. But those people put their own lives at risk to help people they have never even met, patients with a disease that can easily be spread to the care-givers and their families. These people deserve the title “Hero.” And it demeans their vital role in these times to make light of the risks they take, to dismiss the whole thing as a political ploy or insist that the danger is over-blown. The danger is very real and moreso for some than others — though we are all at risk.

But what about those who work for minimum wages at the stores deemed “essential,” such as grocery stores and the like? Those people come into contact with a great many people every day, people who may or may not be taking care and people who cannot, under the circumstances, keep a “social distance.” It seems to me that these folks deserve the praise that comes with the designation “Hero.”

To be sure we are verbally sloppy and use words loosely — such words as “tragedy” for example — and this applies to the term ‘hero.” Sadly, this demeans those who deserve our thanks and high praise. If everyone is a hero then no one is a hero.

But some are and we need to acknowledge the fact that there are folks out there in our stores trying to make ends meet on meager wages and risking their health in the process. Those who help others and in doing so take a risk are worthy of the accolades attached to the term “hero.” Those who wear camouflage and risk nothing do not.