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The pandemic is still sorting us out

We have seen unmistakably heroic acts of kindness and compassion. And we’ve seen superspreader events where people have been so unwilling to work together for the common good that they won’t even wear a mask.

Nurse Kate Knepprath
Nurse Kate Knepprath dons PPE as she prepares to enter the room of a coronavirus disease patient being treated at UW Health University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin.
REUTERS/Daniel Acker

Married couples vow to work together for their common good “in sickness and in health.” But it’s not until one of them actually gets critically sick that anyone really knows for sure if the spouse who is healthy is truly committed to their relationship. What that healthy spouse does or doesn’t do will speak volumes about the maturity of their character development, their ability to overcome fear, their trustworthiness, and the extent to which they have committed themselves to doing the right thing as a matter of principle. Crisis sorts people out!

During the pandemic we have seen unmistakably heroic acts of kindness and compassion. And we have seen superspreader events during a worldwide pandemic, at which people have been so unwilling to work together for the common good that they won’t even wear a mask, much less wear it properly — not even out of basic respect for the people who, backed by science, believe that wearing a mask is an important thing to do.

Donations, downplaying

We have seen countless people making donations of time and money to food shelves. And we have seen state legislators overtly downplaying the importance of the virus, celebrating a political victory at a banquet without taking proper health precautions, infecting each other with COVID-19, and then subsequently advocating that they should be at the front of the line to receive the vaccine. And we have seen state legislators, for political gain, repeatedly attempt to eliminate the emergency powers that Gov. Tim Walz needs to carry out an effective and coordinated response to the virus.

We have seen medical staff and correctional workers bravely going to work each day, after selflessly isolating themselves from their families to keep them safe. And we have seen self-serving businesses arrogantly refusing to comply with the closure orders of the governor and the court, irresponsibly holding superspreader events in the middle of a worldwide pandemic that has killed more than 380,000 Americans and 5,700 Minnesotans.

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A critical mass of desperation makes heroes and villains of us all. The pandemic, acting like a mirror to our souls, has already revealed the content of our souls for all to see. It has already revealed the extent to which we Minnesotans are willing to work together for the common good. Our individual and collective response to the pandemic has been a measure of our commitment to do the right thing, at a time when doing the right thing has oftentimes been the hardest thing to do.

What are we prepared to do?

The past is gone! The question is, from this moment forward, what are we as individuals prepared to do to offer support to individuals and organizations who are demonstrating good intent in their efforts to work together to do the right thing, in the public interest, for the public good?

Our future asks the question, “Do we as individuals have what it takes to publicly acknowledge the mistakes of our past, and in turn, does the public at large collectively have what it takes to graciously accept apologies and offer forgiveness, without self-serving admonishments, retributions, retaliations, and condemnations?”

John A. Mattsen
John A. Mattsen
The pandemic isn’t done sorting us out! The pandemic will continue to force personal isolation upon us, in effect forcing us to attend a mandatory retreat. As a result of this isolation, most people have already constructively reassessed which things in life matter to them the most, and in the process of doing so, they have learned a lot about patience, persistence, and self-discipline.

The truth always comes out

Others have responded to the adversity of the pandemic with lies, rationalizations, denials, and unwarranted projections of blame, resulting in the propagation of conspiracy theories, misinformation, and disinformation. Because in the end the truth always comes out, these people are playing a game that in the long run they cannot possibly win. The pandemic is not over. The pandemic is still sorting us out!

John A. Mattsen of New Brighton is a retired federal law enforcement officer with a degree in secondary education specializing in the social sciences, with a minor in psychology. 

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