Latham: Separating the 'men' from the cowardly 'sheep'

APTOPIX Virus Outbreak Spain Stricken Countryside

A flock of sheep move on an empty road near Soria, as the lockdown to combat the spread of the new coronavirus continued last week in Spain. Many in Spain’s small and shrinking villages thought their low populations would protect them from the coronavirus pandemic. The opposite appears to have proved true.

From reading social media I have come to realize that quite a few of my binary friends are impressively courageous, at least while they’re in digital form. If computers have done nothing else, they have given everyone the heart of an electronic hero.

I was noticing this while reading that some of my friends were tired of social distancing “nonsense,” (their word). They would not avoid crowds, they would not wear masks and no one could make them, by golly.

Certainly not me. I wouldn’t get close enough to them to even try. I’m a quivering mass of gelatin compared to them. They would no doubt call me a sheep who was willing to stay inside when the governor ordered me to do so. I was a rule-follower about to be consumed by Big Brother.

Somehow, it always seemed more likely that Big Brother would strike by, say, taking away our freedom of speech or our right to a trial by our peers. In this case, we’re just sheep being forced out of movie theaters, bars and barber shops.

If freedom is defined by not being able to be sheared, I think I’m fairly safe. My digital brothers tell me they only start with haircuts, then they will take away the right to be massaged and, after that, well they’ll throw out my Scotch on the rocks, literally.

Sixty years ago or so this month, Martin Luther King Jr. was being beaten to pulp and sentenced to work on a chain gang building roads for the horrendous crime of sitting on the sidewalk, and these guys are worried about getting a crew cut when they want.

Oh, the inhumanity of it all.

Nonetheless, I do admit to their greater courage that is being currently being inhibited by the government. Free birds must fly, after all and I’ve come up with some simple ways they can demonstrate their superior bravery, if they find a need to do so.

First, of course, would be to serve at the front door of hospitals, asking all those walking through the required questions concerning the coronavirus and handing out the required masks.

Admittedly, this does not sound so exciting until you focus on the three nurses who did that very job in New York City and are now deceased from, yes, COVID-19. They were not particularly old, nor were they frail. They worked at a hospital, so they were not overlooked. They got sick and died.

I don’t believe any sort of advanced degree is necessary for the job of screening entrants into a hospital and I’m sure volunteers to stand in the gap would be welcome.

There are more traditional ways to serve and have some heart-pounding risk brought into your life. You could serve in one of the branches of the military. No, there’s no war going on right now but you never know.

Or be a police officer or firefighter. I know the pay’s not great but, hey, think of the adventures you’ll have. Heck, these days even working as a jailer can bring some excitement, especially when you don’t give a care about COVID-19.

If none of these things are quite sexy enough to post on social media and impress your friends, you might think about a hobby I just thought up for the brave. I call it tornado catching. Who cares about tornado chasers? Do you really need that much courage to follow a tornado where it has already been? I think not. Just listen to weather forecasts to determine the future path of a tornado and get smack dab in the middle. Open your arms wide and you’ve caught yourself a cyclone.

Get pictures and show the world on Facebook. The world can’t wait.

— Phil Latham is editor emeritus of the News-Journal. His column appears Wednesday. Email platham@news-journal.com .

Today's Bible verse

“Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’”

— Galatians 4:6

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