The Definition of Insanity

This op-ed was published on September 28, 2020, in the Florida Times Union through the “USA Today” news network as a guest columnist. The Times Union is the major newspaper for a metroplex of 1.6 million people and one of the top 100 newspapers in the country.

Link to published op-ed

Here is the original essay from the Florida Times Union:

“The Definition of Insanity”

Do you remember the movie “Groundhog Day?” Well, we’re all about to wake up, hit the alarm clock button, and there’s going to be a COVID blizzard outside. 

Why? Because here in the Sunshine State, we still have high community spread, an “open it up now” crazed government single-mindedly concerned with tourism and mobs of eager citizens with poor impulse control.

According to the experts at Harvard, Brown, and other places filled with brainy people, community spread is best measured by a seven-day average of new cases per day per 100,000 people. Florida’s numbers are still over a dozen times higher than what would indicate zero community spread. 

At the time I am writing this, only one state has zero community spread. Almost every spot on the globe is doing better than us because they approached things scientifically and did the hard work first. They built a solid foundation, while here in Florida, we’re trying to open up on quicksand, which does not end well.

I suspect all of us who have sacrificed to slow the spread of covid feel the same way when I say to those of you out there who are misbehaving like spoiled children trying to get away with something. “Please, just stop it!” What you are doing is killing people, making people sick, forcing schools to reclose, hurting the economy and forcing 25% of this country to stay at home.

In Florida, if past is any predictor of the future, we will soon have too many people again prematurely acting like the danger has passed. A month or two from now, we will be back in the same sorry place we were in with soaring infection rates and soaring frustration. 

A lot of people blame our stupid behavior on President Donald Trump. I am no Trump supporter. He deserves a heaping steaming helping of the blame, but you can’t really blame him or his GOP cronies. The root problem is us.

Why are we and our kids not always wearing masks when we should, and not always social distancing when we should? 

About 30 years ago, we had a label for this kind of me-first-obnoxious thinking. It was the Ugly American. Tag you’re it. Thankfully, you ugly jokers are a minority.

Now, the majority of us, who are not Ugly Americans, need to get over our political differences, ignore and then vote out any dangerous morons we foolishly elected, and get real about beating down the coronavirus and its enabling ugly jokers until this pandemic is nothing but a sorry sad memory.

We are all Americans. We are all in the same boat.

This op-ed was written while we were living in Northern Florida during the pandemic. The madness that occurred in Florida due to far-right politics overriding commonsense and safety is implicit in this essay. The city of one million where we lived was hard hit. Early on in the pandemic, for a period of weeks, we become the national epicenter of the pandemic. We had freezer truck morgues and everything else imaginable and unimaginable, and yet, most of the people surrounding us continued to deny the reality of covid.

All throughout the pandemic, the majority of the people in our area refused to wear masks. Many taunted and threatened those who did wear masks. Many believed vaccines were part of a capitalistic conspiracy and ivermectin was the cure. Our own doctor, unsolicited, advised us to take ivermectin as a preventative measure. When we went to get a vaccine booster, we were the first people to do so because almost no one was getting vaccinated. To this day, only about 60% of the people are vaccinated.

We left Florida in June 2022 after living there for five years. Prior to Florida, we had lived in Los Angeles. Estimates are that approximately 30% of the people who moved during the pandemic did so partially or completely for political reasons. When we fled Florida, we felt like domestic political refugees and still do.

I am spending far too much of my time on these op-eds and hope they make some little difference somewhere. Writing them has become a not-so-secret obsession. 

The op-eds often get edited down for brevity as this one did. I know I write far too lengthy, but it’s in my DNA. This op-ed, which is titled “The Definition of Insanity” was written on September 9th and published on September 28th. I have a newer op-ed that carries the same message of shared responsibility and coming together to stop this pandemic. I like this newer op-ed better, but that’s not the one that got published. So without further delay, here is the op-ed from the Florida Times Union (part of the USA Today / Gannett news organization).