Roger Marolt: Getting over being healthy throughout the pandemic
Stopping the spread should be a point of pride
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t proud of myself. At the beginning of the pandemic last March, I wished that I would just get the virus, suffer the symptoms a few days and then enjoy the immunity. I had stuff to do. I was healthy, sort of young, and had only debatable preexisting conditions. I wasn’t too scared.
After that wishing and misguided logic, a friend came down with the bug and almost died. That got me thinking a little more and feeling with my guts a lot less. I read. I listened to the experts. Before the stock market recovered and the government started issuing stimulus checks, I felt like a fool for even momentarily believing catching the bug would be a stroke of good fortune.
I didn’t ever contract the disease, but that’s not what I’m proud of. I have heard people say they are proud of staying clear of the pathogen this whole long year until vaccination day, and, while I do think that is a great accomplishment, I don’t think it is the thing to be proud of.
If you made it this far without getting sick and it was a conscious effort not to, the thing I think you should be most proud of is that you were not part of the spread. You were not a link in the chain that the virus crawled along until it made those closer to the anchor really sick or even killed them. Your hands are clean, and because you believed in science and kept them that way with a million squirts of hand sanitizer, your conscience can be squeaky clean, too. Even though throughout the darkest days you may have doubted it was doing any good, it did. Things were horrific, but they could have been much worse.
If you caught the bug and didn’t become a spreader because you cared, hats off to you, too. There were many incredible people who stayed out on the front lines and faced this insidious pathogen because we needed them to. They risked contracting the virus dozens of times a day, every day, to keep us fed, safe, mentally and emotionally stable, and alive. Unfortunately many of these heroes got infected despite their best efforts to protect themselves while doing their necessary jobs. Most of these conscientious warriors quarantined themselves the moment they were exposed (for many, multiple times) or showed the slightest symptom.
To all who were exposed to the virus in places other than on the front line, but who did the right thing by quarantining as soon as they found out, huge thanks to you, too! You made up for possibly being a little careless, unlucky or naive in underestimating this pandemic. We’re only human. Temporary insanity with no end in sight caused most of us to lose our heads. We were stir-crazy. We used poor judgment. We confused ourselves. Bad things happen to good people, but good people never quit trying to be better.
I think the vast majority of us eventually came around to understanding that we are battling a thing bigger than sound bites and political hyperbole. Whatever it took to start believing in the wicked power of exponential spread, most of us eventually figured out that too many people were dying and too many people were too sick for too long to wish for stupid things like contracting the disease themselves, like I did, and exchanged that ridiculous wishful thinking for meaningful action. That’s why we are where we are today. God bless the nearly 600,000 Americans who have died and the many more who dearly miss them. Hopefully the rest of the world follows our hard-won example soon.
But, to those still proudly proclaiming they got the disease, that it barely affected them, and that they carried on with their lives as if nothing happened, I think you missed most points — including, probably, the one on the end of a vaccine syringe. To boast about that is to discount the dead, those who worked tirelessly trying to keep them alive, and everyone who followed safe protocol for the common good.
You may believe you have proved this pandemic was nothing more than a political hoax because you were lucky enough to survive it in spite of yourself, but please just stop with the big talk. I’m glad you survived this historic tragedy and suffered little in doing so. I hope contemplative reflection eventually puts that good fortune into better perspective.
Roger Marolt knows this country’s greatest patriots have always put everyone before themselves and that takes a lot more than wearing a mask or getting vaccinated. Email him at email@example.com.
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