I’ve been reflecting on the need for folks to take a step back to get a broader perspective on the challenges we’re currently facing and our responsibility to others. For example, I know plenty of people whose kids are seniors in high school facing the loss of athletic seasons, prom and an on-time graduation There is no question, it’s a tough pill to swallow, but I’m reminded that high school seniors in past generations faced even bigger challenges, like draft notices and the likelihood of great personal sacrifice in a Vietnamese rice paddy or on a Normandy beach.
I suspect a lot of them grew up hearing the verse from chapter 2 of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,”
The mindset that says “this is someone else’s problem to solve” is the kind of thing that may have led a group of students from the University of Texas to ignore warnings about social distancing and take a trip to Cabo San Lucas. Turns out nearly two-thirds of them have contracted COVID-19. I am praying for them and their families that they recover quickly – I don’t wish this on anyone.
This week, a reporter asked me what I thought about folks like them who aren’t buckling down to do what it takes to whip this threat so we can get our lives and our economy back on track.
“Quit being an ass. That’s my message, candidly,” Bonnen said when asked about people who refuse to follow social distancing guidelines and recommendations to avoid travel.
“Whether you think this is an issue or not, it is,” Bonnen continued. “The reality of it is they’re coming back and they may not have the illness themselves, but they could spread it to their grandmother or grandfather of their favorite aunt. They could spread it to a neighborhood.”
Bonnen emphasized that the current health orders that have shut down businesses will end when all Texans take steps to slow the spread of the virus.
“I want to be clear, the viability of the Texas economy is 100-percent linked to Texans staying home and social distancing,” Bonnen said. “The sooner the Texas economy is put fully back into business, the sooner we will be in a positive position.”
A friend of mine who heard that interview sent me a picture (below) that I’m told is originally from Life magazine. It is purported to show a soldier in World War II carrying a donkey through a minefield.
Normally these beasts of burden are the ones that do the carrying, but we’re told that the soldier knew that an ass left to wander such treacherous terrain could do some serious damage to itself and others. That premise is highly applicable to our current situation as well.
That picture also reminds us that the Greatest Generation represented in that photo, a generation that risked bullets and bombs in the fight for freedom, is now the generation, along with their children, at greatest risk from a threat that we can overcome…if we’ll merely stay home. You might be getting a little bored in your living room, but I bet it’s a heck of a lot more comfortable than the Chosin Reservoir or the Meuse-Argonne.
You’re welcome to think I’m being a little dramatic, but I believe the stakes are just as high for us as a global community. If we’ll show solidarity together by remaining apart, as we observe the proven prescriptions including handwashing, we won’t catch the virus or spread the virus and this threat will be overcome. If we’re willing to stay at home with our loved ones, we reduce the risk of someone else’s loved one struggling to breathe on a ventilator and possibly dying, alone in a hospital room.
Will staying home for a season cost us some of the pleasures and privileges that we’ve cherished? Sure, but it’s worth it to get us through this minefield together, protect the most vulnerable among us and overcome the greatest threat our nation has faced in this century. Knowing what I know about Texans, I’m confident we will.