I have a feeling the first (now hidden) response to your story wasn’t very pleasant or we’d have seen it. Look, I get what you’re saying. I was out yesterday to get last minute stuff, minding my distances, when a Millennial guy walked by faking a hard cough and laughing at the few of us standing the cold, waiting our turn at Verizon, which was practicing social distancing. As a 67 yo, I am supposed to be vulnerable, although as a pretty serious athlete, that’s not as likely as others. The virus frankly doesn’t give a shit how vibrant I am; I may well have been a carrier and not have known it. What I did try to do was ensure that for my part I didn’t infect anyone else as I spent the last ten days trying my damnedest to track down a pack of toilet paper.

Look, Jordan, at one level, there is a genuine generational difference in how each of us responds to such things. While that doesn’t make anyone right or wrong, there is perhaps a learning arc for those younger. However by the same token, there is an equal level of denial (and some might say, brutal stupidity) on the part of older folks who simply do not heed the advice and head out to play golf anyway. This is how we may lose our beloved grammys, as we walk around asymptomatic and potentially spreading something deadly to those who really are vulnerable. As a society, with the exception of natural hoarders and the lugnuts who are taking this opportunity to stock up on guns and ammo (I won’t even go there) we are remarkably ignorant. Just…ignorant. That isn’t evil. We’re just resistant to the notion. We have a very hard time taking things seriously.

As a military veteran, a part of me automatically starts thinking about the “team” if you will, the greater good. Any of us who has had responsibility for a platoon or a brigade has to think about how others are affected by X, and so that comes naturally to me. Our society is dangerously in love with the individual, and with our individual freedoms. That’s what prompted a breathlessly arrogant tweet from a 30 year old named Katie in NYC the other day who bragged that she’d just had a delicious dinner at a crowded Red Robin, taken her sweet time eating it. “I’m an American, she said, “and I’ll do whatever I want.”

Sounds just like Donald Trump to me. And apparently to others as well. I wonder if she’s among the many who are sick in the NYC contingent.

The problem is that we are living in a MEMEMEMEME society, which rewards such thinking, at a time when just the opposite is demanded of us. You want your grammy to thrive, she has to count on others who consider her health and not just the fact they want a Red Robin burger and fuck everyone else.

I’m not religious. Not at all. However I sure as hell believe that things invariably end up sorting themselves out. I may not be around. I have no idea. But for the short term I also will not be responsible for someone else’s demise, and perhaps that kind of feeling is something to consider. We’re all on a learning curve here.

Finally, here’s an analogy to think about. I’m a very experienced horse rider. One of the essential lessons that rookie riders have to learn is that if a horse is running way with you, pulling hard on the reins is likely to not only piss off that horse but make him run even harder to resist you. I had a huge, powerful horse run away with me in Croatia. Bastard took the bit in his mouth and we were off to the races.

As someone who has had more than my share of near death experiences skydiving, scuba diving and horse riding, I don’t panic. Not even. My brain gets icy and the first thing I do is what I’m trained to do: fix the fucking problem.

I leaned forward, grabbed the rein just where it held the bit at the edge of his mouth, and pulled steadily to the left where we had open field. That cranked his head around and his huge body HAD to follow. As a result he HAD to slow. We ran in a rather large circle, but he quickly slowed to a stop. The second I let go he bolted again, and I did the same thing. This time he got the message. I was in charge, and he was not going to run again.

This is in many ways the same thing. Your friend got hold of the bit and pulled you in a circle. Just jerking the reins has a tendency to piss us off, and we respond by being dickheads. Someone has to love us enough to make a strongly worded enough suggestion that we work off our steam. Then we can see: it’s your grams who is at risk, too.

The challenge, Jordan, is that those who really do not want to stop can do potentially terrible damage before they listen to reason.

I appreciate your message. I wonder if you might write a few more focusing in how real this is. I share your career as a professional speaker, and we are both responsible for the quality of our words. That’s the gauntlet. Wanna play?

Horizon Huntress, prize-winning author, adventure traveler, boundary-pusher, wilder, veteran, aging vibrantly. I own my sh*t. Let’s play!

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