Impeachment, Aging Peers, Vaccinations

Today the United States Senate begins hearing arguments on whether or not to proceed with the trial to convict Trump of impeachable offenses. I think all in the world who are paying attention and are honest with themselves know that he is responsible for the January 6th riots, and that his actions were an attack on American democracy. But he will not likely be convicted because he has a loyal following among right-wing voters and Republican politicians are fearful of alienating those voters. This is very sad. When a large segment of a country turns superstitious and ignorant, or more accurately when the superstitiousness and ignorance of a large segment of our country becomes increasingly evidence and influential in our political process, why is it that our leaders become obsequious rather than try to educate and enlighten? Is this the end of our country’s evolution toward a fully-free, fair, and democratic society, or simply a stall in that process? We shall see.

It has been not quite six years since Leslie died. In that time I have watched several friends receive diagnoses or cancer, have witnessed friends and relatives contract COVID-19, and seen others come down down with heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and other chronic conditions that require ongoing treatment and limit their ability to take part in physical activities that have been important parts of their lives. A friend who had been living a long time with a treatable form of blood cancer finally succumbed a few weeks before Christmas. A hiking and music companion was diagnosed last spring with multiple myeloma. Although a stem cell transplant promises to give him a good quality of life for years to come, he is clearly not the vital outdoorsman that he was but one year ago. A woman that I became friends with shortly after Leslie died was diagnosed with bladder cancer not long ago and has undergone very unpleasant treatment with an uncertain long-term outcome. Last week I met a very good friend who had told me a little over three years ago that he had been recently diagnosed with lung cancer, even though he had never been a smoker. At the time he said new treatments were likely to keep him very healthy for another three years or longer, but the disease was not curable. About six months ago he told me that his treatment was no longer working and that his oncologist was switching to older, conventional chemotherapy and radiation to treat tumors that had spread to his brain and kidneys. I just met his last week and found that he is now confined to a wheel chair, bringing back memories of Leslie when her disease had progressed. These are only a few examples of the many friends, relatives and acquaintances of ages similar to mine who are facing health challenges. I consider myself very lucky at this point to only have to take one medication to treat complex partial seizures, but I think about my own mortality more often these days. My seizures are well controlled and the medication doesn’t seem to have any side effects.

As of this morning, about 4.2% of those eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines in Colorado have received their first dose. I am among the lucky, having received my first Moderna inoculation on January 21st. I am eager to get my second, which is scheduled for February 18th. Now there are reports of several mutations of the virus with uncertainty of how effective the vaccines will be against it. I’m not sure what all this means, but just like current events in the United States highlight the fragility of democracy and civilization itself, the ease with which the Corona virus has spread across the globe and now mutated to evade prevention and treatment, I’m aware of how fragile human existence on this planet is, not just for us as individuals, but for the entire species. The mantra we kept hearing when it was apparent that the virus was not a fleeting thing was, “We’ll get through this.” Many of us have not. Many businesses have not survived the pandemic. Relationships have suffered and fallen apart, foundations of faith have crumbled, and we have watched the ability of our country to unite in addressing this challenge fail. On the other hand, we have come up with new ways to communicate, engage in commerce, entertain ourselves, and create. If the vaccines are successful in establishing herd immunity, and if we can avoid new pandemics in the near future, we might emerge stronger, wiser, and humbler. We shall see.