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The Chinese confirmed on New Year’s Eve 2019 that dozens of people were being treated for a mysterious yet similar illness. There was no evidence that it was passed from human to human. Ten or 11 days after that, the first death in Wuhan was reported.

Information of this virus was clipped off and discarded like a toenail until China closed Wuhan’s factories, then suspended air, train and bus travel. That was an alarm.

In February, the Grand Princess cruise ship was stranded off the California coast and told not to dock because of an outbreak onboard. Passengers were confined to quarters and not allowed to serve themselves at the buffet. A hundred Covid test kits were dropped from a helicopter, but there were 3500 passengers.

Now, a year later, two-and-a half-million people have died of Covid-19 worldwide, half a million in the United States because we were slow to respond.

In 2020 California and Australia lost millions of acres to wildfires. Fires might be medicine to the earth, but they’re tormenting to her inhabitants and structures.

Since last Saturday, millions have been without electric power in killer cold. They have been told to boil their water. With what? A Bic lighter?

The tendency last year, and this year, as unanticipated events are knocking us sideways, is to place blame. This must be somebody’s fault, right?

A year ago we started Zooming meetings, wearing masks, staying away from people, washing our hands while singing Happy Birthday twice, and cooking our own food. Broadway went black, airplanes stopped flying, and sports got so bollixed up we didn’t know which season it was. Except for hockey. Seems it’s always hockey season.

We changed our lives to protect us and others. We were reluctant but compliant. Still, we were unprepared.

But it’s changing. We are learning to respond to rugged events, which includes assuming that when we all crank up the heat at once, the heat source will be exhausted. We’re adjusting to uncertainty, and we’re less likely to place blame on elected officials, because really, elected officials are not going to fix citizens’ busted pipes. They will say, “There’s not enough in the budget.”

In our country, and others, we agree to pay taxes so we can have infrastructure and defense. Somehow, the money was spent on low bidders and kickbacks, and military defense became aggressive offense.

Could our city government take money from every commission budget and pay water and electric bills for people who are worn out and financially deprived? Private entities manage to make sure people get fed. What is the role of government? To ensure the welfare of citizens? There’s money for more police cars but not enough for a truck to get to Hindsville to pick up salt or beet juice for road treatment?

We are being forced to use our imaginations, a good thing. Not just us in Carroll County, us everywhere. What’s happening to us as a planet might be karmic whiplash, but it also might simply be the nature of things and how effectively we respond.

Getting outside at midnight last night to deal with a totally apoplectic copper water pipe spewing like a spring in spring, I wondered if we’ve gotten everything all wrong. Maybe the Bible really said, “Thou shalt not covid your neighbor’s wife.”

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