Felled by a lack of patience and resolve…

June 28, 2020

Americans have a well known history of impatience and a lack of resolve when faced with a patient and persistent enemy. Ho Chi Minh knew that if he kept the war in Viet Nam going long enough that America would eventually loose its resolve and abandon the fight and the country. The Taliban leaders are probably counting on the same thing in Afghanistan. Now, we are seeing the consequences of that lack of patience and resolve in the fight against the Corona Virus, especially among the young for whom patience was never a virtue.

The resurgences of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations we are witnessing in the South and West are a direct consequence of people, many of them young people, becoming inpatient and ignoring the advice to socially distance themselves and wear masks. A recent hot spot outbreak in southeastern Michigan has been traced to a big college campus party at a bar that had just reopened. Event though he bar owners and staff took all of the precautions that they could, the crowd that gathered did not heed the warnings and advice and many did not wear masks. A couple of weeks after r the party, a large number of people reported being COVID positive and had spread the disease to others who weren’t even there when they went back home.

The Corona Virus isn’t aware of the lack of patience. It is just a very opportunistic organism with a single focus upon replicating itself. The fact that it sometimes kills its host just means that it must continue to jump from host to host as quickly as possible. It is convenient for it that many of the potential hosts choose not to protect themselves from infection.

In interview after interview that we see on the nightly news there are people (mostly young white people) who profess to be unconcerned about the pandemic. Many seem to be repeating the words of our MAGA-maniac that this is all somehow a big hoax or no worse that the regular flu.  Of course, they usually aren’t wearing masks because their fearless leader doesn’t wear one. To them, it is all fake news.

We could dismiss that lunatic fringe were it not for the fact that they are joined by a large number of people who have just grown wearing of this battle and are ready to walk away from doing the things that are required to win. There will be no dramatic pictures of helicopters loading those who seek to escape from this battle, like there were from the  the roof of the American Embassy in Viet Nam. There have already been claims of victory over this pandemic from the fearless leader that ring as hollow as the claims of victory over the Taliban. Like the Taliban, the Corona virus may hide in the shadows for a while, but it is not vanquished. It is just waiting for our patience and resolve to wane. The recent resurgence or second wave (call it what you will) has proven that strategy to be valid, as has the acceptance of the Taliban in so-called “peace talks” in Afghanistan.

The science of the situation has not changed; however, the economic damage and political pressures have increased to the point of overruling the best advice of our health professionals. The T-shirts worn by those protesting the restrictions that were imposed which used to say “Live Free or Die” would now be more correct in stating “Live Free and Die”. If it were simply that only the person unwilling to take precautions would be impacted, it might be OK to let that pass. Bu t it is not that simple.

So, now, five months into this pandemic, it is gut-check time for our resolve as a nation. Do we declare victory and walk away from the fight, knowing that thousands more will die; or, do we renew our resolve to take on this enemy and defeat it with the only real weapons that we have – avoiding crowds, practicing social distancing, washing our hands frequently and wearing a face mask?  Eventually, our scientists will develop and give us a better weapon – a vaccine. Until then we must fight with what we have.

The Corona virus is incapable of smiling or snickering at us, but it has to be happy to see the waning resolve and lack of patience that its target hosts are displaying. Perhaps it will take a change in leadership at the national level (or one might say just leadership at all) to rally Americans against this enemy. We can win this battle. We cannot yet defeat the virus, but we can work to make sure that it does not defeat us.

Stay safe. Wear a mask in public. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands often. Be patient and persistent. Let’s defeat this enemy!

A test of patience and resolve…

May 12, 2020

The Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote today – “How long is a minute?  It depends on which side of the bathroom door you’re on.” 

Our recent collective experience with the COVID-19 pandemic has really been a test of our patience and resolve as a people and many have failed that test miserably. For many it really depended upon which side of the economic-impact “door” they were on when the crisis hit. Some had the wherewithal to withstand an interruption in their normal revenue stream and others did not. Many entered this crisis already in “barely hanging on” mode in their business or life and for them any interruption was bound to be devastating. Others either had sufficient reserves to whether the storm or they were able to work from home without an interruption of their pay.

The problems caused by the business interruptions was exacerbated by the almost total failure of the systems that state governments had in place to deal with job loss benefits. Michigan was particularly ill prepared and its unemployment system failed the State’s population miserably. The effort at the Federal level was similarly flawed as many still await their so-called “stimulus checks” over two months into the crisis. The bright spots that have been reported, such as community food banks stepping up, were primarily driven at the grass-roots level and not by any government actions.

Further straining our patience and resolve were the cretins who came out from under various rocks to put forth their conspiracy theories and claim that the whole thing is a hoax. It wears one down to have to continually deal with such stupidity, but it provided all of the cover that many needed to justify their defiance of the advice of health and governmental leaders. Most of them were on the other side of the economic door to begin with and needed only a little push to join the dark side.

One of the things that it was very easy to get impatient with is the messaging that we are bombarded with in the media. Everyone is here for us. We are all in this together. These are uncertain times. This is an unprecedented experience for us all. Yada, yada, yada. You would think that someone in those high-priced ad agencies could come up with a different message – one that doesn’t sound like a repeat of what everyone else is saying. Just say, “This sucks” and then provide a message of hope and patience.

We have now entered the “re-opening America” phase at the national and most states level. We will soon see stories of the virus reappearing and new “hot spots” developing in states that reopened first. Have we become conditioned, perhaps numbed, to a nightly body-count report and impatient enough to accept that report and the risk that we will become personally involved in the statistics? We have been through this kind of numbing experience and loss of national resolve before as a nation – the Viet Nam war comes immediately to mind and more recently the wars in the Middle East. We’ll probably even see some entrepreneurial merchant start selling “I survived COVID-19” t-shirts this summer.

As has happened in our national politics, we have quickly separated into the two camps. There are those who are cautious and concerned about the disease, willing to head the advice to stay away from others until it subsides ; and those who are impatient and perhaps unconvinced that the disease is a real threat and who want to (they say need to) get back to work. It is unfortunate that the camp that is willing to take that risk is able to do so only by putting us all at risk and finds comfort and support in messages from our Head Tweeter in Charge.

We all have a choice to make, again. One can regain their resolve and re-set their patience to wait this thing out in safety or one can go get a haircut and join the crowds at the newly reopened malls and hope that it was all an overblown hoax. It must sadden (perhaps anger) the brave men and women in the health care industry who have lived through caring for the first wave of this disease to see the second wave so eager to join the statistics.

The choice is yours to make. As for me, I’ll be at home praying for you to be safe.

You can’t get by without the BY…

December 30, 2019

It’s that time of year when confetti and resolutions fill the air and both often have the same consistency. Making New Year’s resolutions is an amusing pass-time for most, especially for those who enter into the process with little intent to carry out those resolutions. They make no effort to differentiate between dreams, wishes and resolutions. However, for some this is a time of serious reflection and the setting of new personal goals for the coming year. For them, the dictionary definition of resolve is the base upon which they make their resolutions –


  1. firm determination to do something.

Do you have resolve in your resolutions? Most resolutions that people make are about changing themselves or the way that they interact with others. One might resolve (again) to lose weight or perhaps to finally pursue a job change. Maybe the resolution is to be a better parent or partner. Perhaps the goal is to be more tolerant and open to new ideas and different people. The key there is that these are all goals. Without a commitment to plans and actions they will remain unfulfilled goals until next year’s resolution setting time.  

What turns a wish or dream or goal into a real resolution is the addition of a statement on how you will achieve that goal – the BY part of the resolution.

“I resolve to lose XX Pounds in 2020 , BY…”

The … part can be a list of actions that you commit to take in order to achieve that goal. It may be things like joining a weight loss support group, signing up for a weight loss food program, increasing your daily exercise by joining and using a gym or work-out program. Whatever it is, it should be achievable, measureable and have some time constraint imposed upon getting it done. It cannot use the word “try”. It must use the words “will” and “by”. It is that will, or firm determination, that you are keeping track of with the time constraint.

So, take a look at your resolutions for 2020. To separate the dreams and wishes from the things that you are really committed to get done, see which ones have a BY list. Do those things have a time constraint? Those are the things that you need to focus your resolve on getting done in 2020. Those are your real resolutions.

The next step may be to break your “BY” list down into smaller, more achievable increments, so that you can tackle and achieve the goal little by little. It is important to reinforce your resolve throughout the year by winning the small victories that achieving another step can bring. It is not unusual that larger goals or steps may have to be preceded by smaller, preparatory steps that you didn’t initially think of when  creating your BY list. Those aren’t setbacks; they are opportunities for more small victories on your way to success.

Having a good BY list for your resolutions also helps you stay on track by giving you something to look back upon as well as things to look ahead to doing next. You can find encouragement to continue towards your goals when you can look back and say to yourself, “Look at all that I’ve already achieved.”  

So, take a look at your 2020 Resolutions list before New Year’s eve and separate out those that you really resolve to achieve. For those, if you don’t already have one, create a BY list of steps and the times to achieve those steps to which you are willing to commit.

There is one last step to take, if you are serious about those resolutions. Put the resolution and the BY list on paper and find someone to be your accountability partner. Give that person the paper and ask them meet with you regularly to check on your progress and  to make sure that you are achieving the steps on your BY list. Sometimes we just need that last little push of having to report to someone else on the progress that we are making or not making. It reinforces our resolve.

Have a Happy New Year. May you achieve all of your resolutions BY…