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Observations from a homebound dinosaur

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My windows are live streaming an April that comes along once a decade in Georgia.

It’s a spring of prolonged sunshine, blue skies, cool temperatures. The green leaves — nature’s latest wardrobe — quiver on bark clotheslines.

The view is stunning, even more so after a cold, wet winter.

After more than a month of trepidation, this is the week we in the Peach State are supposed to unshackle ourselves from home and get on with business.

I just heard from a neighbor down the street that her father died last week from the COVID-19 virus.

“He went into the hospital alone,” she wrote. “He suffered alone. He died alone.”

So, there you go. Reality in three sentences.

Even during the height of the coronavirus threat — assuming the height has passed — I marveled at those who never took it seriously. Certainly, by phone, I’ve interviewed scores of people who exercise proper caution and still find ways to help the afflicted or those who are under threat.

But even with my limited access to the outside, work trucks with crowded cabins rumble by, neighbors drop off kids for a day of play with other kids, and young 20-somethings gather for a Friday evening of drinks by the grill.

I’m no epidemiologist, but facts are facts. Scientifically, there remains no reason to be so cavalier.

Never mind the immediate health risks. If you think you are bulletproof because you are young or because you don’t believe the virus is contagious, you’re probably mistaken. But that’s OK. It is your life.

But it’s not OK really, because it’s my life. It’s my wife’s life, my friends’ lives.

If one has a family to support in a profession that does not allow working from home, I sympathize. I even support your efforts to slip through the social roadblocks, go out and earn a paycheck.

It’s the other stuff, the meet-ups, the devil-may care attitude.

There was a time, I think, when people exercised what I always thought of as a civic conscience. They paid their taxes, cut their grass, slowed down in school zones — simple things really — not because it was the law, but because it respected society and earned them a dose of self-respect in the bargain.

It wasn’t anything as lofty as patriotism or an admonition to love one’s neighbor. It was something less and something more, something that seems to have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Such is my observation from home, a random thought clouding an otherwise sunny day.

It’s just one of those stray doubts suggesting we may have become so horribly fractured, nothing can bind us for the common good. 

It is hard, I know, to unite in a world of social distancing. Maybe impossible.

If so, this is less a sermon, more a requiem.

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