Monthly Archives: October 2020

A Question

I have a question.

The various iterations filter to, “If we would have had leadership at the top, we wouldn’t be in this pandemic mess.”

My question is: What specific leadership could anyone have offered at any place in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic that would have stopped the invisible enemy and avoided its deadly march around the world? More specifically its early and continued malice across the USA?

Most, if not all, instructions and insights in first three months of year have been rescinded and re-tracked at least once. Last week the WHO reversed its opinion about lockdown. Now they consider it a bad thing to do. What would February leadership have said or done then that would have still been “wise” today? In October, some are saying we need a national law on mask wearing. If only we had leaders who would have ordered national mask wearing. That would have required an act of nationalizing the private lives of its citizens. That is called Socialism. It is the practice of Communism. Which makes the question even more pointed.

There is also the Constitutional principle of State’s Rights. The Federal government cannot at will override or assume authority over state government. The president can nationalize the National Guard (maybe-?), but the Governor has the authority to call out the Guard. The Federal Government—Executive Branch is limited in sending troops into a state or city. It is up to each State to determine, not a central government. The State Government must ask for Federal help. Communist governments send in military to squash protests as the Chinese did in Hong Kong. Our Constitution places limits on such.

The question is not a defense of our current President or Federal government, it is about what (not who) could have been done in January-March, 2020? What leadership action? I guess leaders could have used fortune tellers, tea-leaf readers, soothsayers and such. That’s what it sounds like–betting on crap shoots.

We have learned that COVID is not responsive to edicts, news releases or executive orders. The scientific communities do not agree on whether masks work. Nine plus months into this pandemic and the discussion still rages among regular citizens and the Blue Ribbon experts. They are still trying to figure it out. Therefore, what could anyone have done eight or ten months ago when no one knew more than just a little bit?

To suggest that if Mr. Biden had been president things would be different in January to October, 2020. Anyone but Trump. Perhaps Hillary or Jeb Bush. Maybe Jimmy Stewart? We can only guess. To magically place a different face in the White House would change not just the person, but the social, national dynamics. It would not be the same problem. COVID or any contagious disease does not respond to votes or political rhetoric. All the alternative leaders would have the same restrictions and boundaries. Lincoln and Roosevelt declared martial law/limited writs of habeas corpus. If you grant any alternative legality, then it must be given to the current president, influencers and opinionators.

The politicians found much to dislike about John Quincy Adams. He was quirky, but he was predictable. One Washingtonian said how Adams would act in the future could be found by reading his history. I have heard others say that. We can guess or make an educated guess how others would have handled any given crisis, but we will never know. We can’t go back to the future or time travel forward. Maybe we can shakily predict how some would have acted if they had only the information the government and medical community possessed in January or March. To me, the facts are still fluid. Leaders are still making it up as they go—based on the best evidence currently available.

Much of the 2020 Presidential vote weighs heavy on the question. Outside of political harangue, it is an impossible question to answer with absolute accuracy. But that conclusion resides in my brain. You may have a better answer. If so, there are many of us who want to hear it.

Just Wondering

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Temp Shift into Neutral

From my HyVee* Fortune Cookie: “Getting away for the weekend will help clear your mind.” It also told me to learn Chinese.

Ok, let’s do it. I like road trips, but where can we go to escape? Can I take my laptop, phone and briefcase? If I get away, who will mind the store? Will we miss something important on the news or Facebook? Twitter?

The possibility of getting away is thin. We’ve found a couple of alternatives to a road trip that will take our minds off the madness:

A talented man leaves city life to build a cheap cabin in the Canadian wilderness. There are three years of his life and projects on his youtube channel. He doesn’t talk much, just takes us along to fish, build and grow things all without power tools. It is a way to “get away for the weekend.”

“My Self-Reliance”

My niece spent a few days with friends in Tennessee. She said they visited 15 coffee shops. That is my idea of a weekend away. I like coffee shops more than coffee. The ultimate coffee shop is Starbucks at Barnes & Noble—and I’m not thrilled with the coffee, but the blend of the smell of books and coffee is a trip.

If you are a fan of Andy Andrews or have read Traveler’s Gift, you know the prime character named Jones. Several of Andy’s books feature him. You need to know that Andy Andrews is marketing coffee. It is named, “Just Jones Java.” Price is competitive—(kinda!)—and is now available. Wise marketing!

I really miss going to coffee shops to read, pray and observe people. I haven’t been to a coffee shop since March or April. To feed my addiction, I make coffee, find a parking lot where I read and drink coffee. It gets me away from my desk and the alluring cable news channels. I said this a month ago and it is still true: The encounters I have had with God have been in those times talking/listening to God while reading Joel Salatin’s book The Pigness of Pigs. I can pray and cry out loud “Oh, Lord!” in the car while that wailing makes baristas uneasy—curdles their cream.

The other day I read descriptions of commercial food farming—chickens, cattle, pigs—and I was driven to prayer. I know why I react to PETA. I also know how difficult it is to get public attention for the ethical treatment of animals. “Don’t mess with my burger!” But PETA makes a point the Church should be declaring. Salatin is a Jesus Follower and conversant with the Bible teaching as applied to 20th Century needs and technology. I don’t think the Creator is pleased with how we allow or demand such appalling treatment of animals headed to our dinner table or drive-thru. The Creator has invited me in to glimpse how stewardship is about soil as well as souls.

I have also been stimulated to think outside my usual zone by his blog—“Musings From a Lunatic Farmer.

A blog last week convinced me of the benefit of renting forests and public lands to farmers who will graze cattle, hogs, turkeys, chickens there to offset wildfires while enriching the soil.

Not going to get away for the weekend; probably won’t learn much Chinese, but I plan to flush toxic stuff from my mind and listen, contemplate and write God’s words into my journal.

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Not a farm boy. A liker of flowing water, good soil, nurturing souls and healthy food.

*HyVee—the Midwest’s food store where there’s a smile in every aisle.