Psst! The Mandates Are Here

Psst! The Mandates Are Here August 26, 2021

Late Show host Steven Colbert has a segment on his show called Meanwhile . . .. In the segment, Colbert comically addresses a list of newsworthy events separated with the expression “meanwhile.” He uses the expression as a turn of phrase, to let his audience know he’s moving on to another story.

In a larger context, “meanwhile” is a word that transcends time and space. It permits our minds to grasp the concept that while we are doing what we do in our own lives everyone else is doing likewise; we are living life as best as we can, just in a different context.

To everything there is a season

It reminds me of the lyrics to the song Turn! Turn! Turn! by the Byrds written by Pete Seeger in 1959 as quoted in Wikipedia.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain that which is to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time of love, and a time of hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

No doubly Seeger was influenced by the prose recorded in the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible.

Much of the stuff that goes on in our lives is as routine as having our first cup of joe in the morning. For example, as I sit here typing and drinking my own freshly made brew, meanwhile . . . I can hear my neighbor across the street mowing his lawn. I’m in my own world . . . and he’s in his own.

Other stuff that goes on makes us contemplate the serious injustices and in equalities of life. Every time I drive into Portland, OR these days I see a noticeable difference in the demise of this once great city. Before covid hit, the city had its flaws, but now I witness the degradation increasing every time I cross over the Columbia River by way of the 205. Gang related Graffiti is painted on virtually every available cement canvas, homeless encampments surrounded by litter rivaling the city dump are everywhere I look, and civil arrest pours into the streets almost nightly.

Making love not war

But some stuff really boggles my mind. This WORLDOMETER website tells me in real time that there were 110,231 births today. Meanwhile . . . there were 46,321 deaths and the global population exploded by 64,173 new souls. (—and it’s only 6:56 a.m. where I’m located. If you link to this site, you’ll discover all these numbers are on the uptick.)

There’s lots of ways my mind wants to cognate this data. My lizard brain, which tends to focus on survival and sex, makes me speculate about how many couples are making love at this very moment. Actually, copulating right now—and now. Which is beautiful imagery when you think about it, because it illustrates both the power of love and the tenacity of humans to survive.

Make love not war. / Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

However, the supramarginal gyrus part of my cerebral cortex wants me to compassionately consider how and why so many are dying—right now—through both horrific and dignified ways.

About that illusive quest . . . finding happiness

How we all find happiness in life while there is so much beauty and human misery transpiring is a quirk of human nature. On the one hand, our quest to be happy is easily derailed the moment we dare think about all the pain and misery that’s unfolding in this world. Yet, how do we gauge the level of our own wellbeing if we don’t compare it to the pain and joys other people are experiencing?

As the Byrd’s song implies, at any given moment what’s happening in our own lives—as well as the 7,888,407, 205 other inhabitants of earth—is a cascade of ever changing circumstances ranging from the extreme to ecstatic. While some are experiencing euphoria others are living through nightmarish scenes of exasperation like those we see coming out of Afghanistan. Alas, there is a time for everything in life; we will all experience these unique times to varying degrees at some point in our own lives; and we have no clue in which order these times will come rapping on our door.

Given this reality, it’s impossible to think about everyone else’s life to the exclusion of our own. We are no different than the predators roaming the African savannah. Life is all about survival. We are required to be ruthlessly selfish in our endeavor to subsist, but also, to help our family clan survive. This is not so much a choice, but a genetically encoded imperative. By the same token, we are also innately disposed to fight for the survival of our species. This is where compassion comes into play.

Considering the needs of others may be the most selfish thing we can do to survive

As humans we are the only species uniquely qualified to transcend our own personal limitations and work together towards the survival of our own kind. We, ourselves, may not have the time and resources to accomplish big things, but we all have at least enough empathy to carry out acts of kindness that will benefit everyone. Throughout each of our days, we are inadvertently forced to experience moments in which we stumble across people going through tough times, and these times present us with moments to contrast our own personal interests with the predicament of their situations.

Whether or not we choose to slide the homeless man five bucks at the traffic light is one such moment. But so too is laying aside our personal discomfort and choosing to wear a mask and receive a vaccine, both of which have the potential to save so many lives including our own.

Choosing to wear a mask and get vaccinated my just be the most selfless thing we can do. These actions may not only save our own life, but they will save the lives of others. / Image by Larry White from Pixabay
About Scott R Stahlecker
Scott Stahlecker is a former minister and now writes for Thinkadelics about the joys and benefits of living as a freethinker. He is the author of the novel Blind Guides and Picking Wings Off Butterflies. You can read more about the author here.

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10 responses to “Psst! The Mandates Are Here”

  1. Well, those are a lot of different things to think about.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the world’s population and how the Covid deaths may or may not be balancing the births out.

    As for wearing masks, that’s a whole can of worms in itself. There’s the difference in me-centric (broadly speaking, Western) orientation vs. tribe-centric (broadly speaking, Eastern) thinking: some cultures prioritize the well-being of the self, some prioritize the well-being of the family/tribe/nation. Then, in the USA, there’s the last 40 years of encouraged selfishness–and the last 4 years of the extreme version of that, plus the legitimization of acting like a raving lunatic to get your own way. This is how you get a certain mindset attacking others for wearing masks, or the woman who attacked her family with a knife for getting the vaccine.

  2. Yeah, I got a little creative on this post. I like your condensed synopsis about the whole mask/vaccine debate though, especially the Americanized perspective. Lots of folks are going zero to crazy about it. If “we” are lucky, those refusing to wear masks and get vaccinated will in the end only cause their own deaths. Except that’s not the way viruses works. Just though causal contact with their family members, friends and others, they will also be responsible for infecting and killing others. And since these people won’t act responsibly the state and federal government will have to step in with more and more mandates. So while these folks go on and on about the loss of their personal freedoms they are in effect creating the very conditions that lead to the loss of their personal freedoms.

  3. Yes, viruses establish themselves wherever they get the opportunity, so not taking precautions is putting not only yourself, but other people, at risk. I’m currently worried about a longtime friend who got vaxxed, took a work-from-home job, stayed home whenever she could…and just reported in that she’s not feeling well before going silent. I haven’t seen her in person in 2 years even though we live 4 miles apart, and I’m worried, but I’m also furious that she might have been made sick by the “maskholes”.

  4. I’m sorry to hear about her and I hope she’s all right. Have you thought about going and checking on her?

    About the maskholes . . . they are infuriating. Literally speaking, they are a bunch of hoodlums who run around with a potentially lethal virus deliberately trying to infect others. Their actions would be no different if they were using a lethal weapon instead. This offers yet another reason for mask mandates. If everyone is wearing a mask then it forces these kinds of people to comply and prevents them from infecting others deliberately.

  5. I went by my friend’s house and nobody answered the door. Left several messages. Am going to try to believe the best until I hear otherwise.

    In other news, I spent the day running errands (a typical Saturday task) and only saw people wearing masks in Costco and the library (that was the workers). I’m…speechless. Having grown up mainly in places where people will wear masks if they have a cold to show respect for everyone around them, I’m just flabbergasted that people take pride in not wearing a mask during a pandemic.

  6. I’d be interested in knowing when you find out how she’s doing, hopefully all is well.

    I live in Washington State where it’s now mandatory to wear masks indoors. When I was out and about today about 30% of people were not wearing masks. The mandate started last Monday, so some may not be aware of it. Most people probably are though. I was a bit ticked off myself, because for those who aren’t wearing masks it just goes to show their defiance or lack of concern for others. I have little patience for people who care for nobody other than themselves.

    It’s up to businesses to start enforcing these mandates again. Perhaps businesses are worried about pissing off customers by confronting them, but they should also be worried about loosing customers who would like to shop in a safe environment as well.

  7. Thanks; still hoping to hear something.

    I’m on the other side of the country from you, diametrically opposed, and we have the same mask mandates but maybe 10% of people are wearing masks. “At long last, have you no decency?” We’ve got our answer; they do not.

    I gave myself a nasty scratch on the face with a jagged fingernail while removing the mask yesterday; hydrogen peroxide followed by bacitracin and I’m good as new.

  8. That’s way to low of a percentage of people.

    I’m beginning to think we are in this for the long haul, perhaps multiple variants of covid are on their way. It’s ironic that the very people who “wish” the virus (s) to go away by not wearing masks and getting vaccines are going to be the very people that perpetuate the problem. I don’t think their actions are going to lead to the extinction of the human race, but they may just help eliminate some of the stupidity inherent in our species. 🙂

  9. Spoke with my friend and her illness was not Covid-related, but she was in the hospital. Thanks for your concern.

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