In November of 1969, I was a Signalman Striker onboard the USS Point Defiance as we prepared to enter the Vietnamese port of Qua Viet to offload equipment bound for the Army of the Republic of Vietnam.
Scuttlebutt aboard indicated that we would not be getting sandbags to line the rails of the flying bridge, which was my duty station as there were not enough for all three of the ships in our task group, and so none would get any. The sandbags would have protected us from potential sniper fire from the Viet Cong.
For the first time, I contemplated the reality of my situation and realized that I was at risk — and that I did not want to die.
That angst didn’t keep me from my duty and passed, forgotten until lately in the face of the current pandemic. Once again, I realize that I do not want to die.
My Vietnam angst served as a foundation for grassroots political engagement when I returned to the world. For the fifty years since I have been active to one extent or another in the service of what I deem to be Good Government.
I say Good Government as opposed to Government that lies to people — as was the case during the Vietnam war and set so much of the left against the government.
And while some today on the right seem to portray all government as bad, I remain committed to making government good, serving people and solving problems.
I recall the old testament story of Jacob, who, after being sold into slavery by his brothers, rose to prominence in Egypt managing the Pharaoh’s granaries. In essence, ancient Egypt’s strategic reserves or stockpiles set aside in anticipation of potential and inevitable famines.
Planning for foreseeable threats is a proper role for Good government.
Noted Minnesota epidemiologist Michael Osterholm has been telling us for decades, the pandemic at hand was inevitable, and only a surprise to those who saw all government as the enemy — and the incompetent, some of whom are in power to this day.
Recently a friend mentioned in passing the Netflix’s series, World War II in Color.
The first episode explores the rise to power of both Hitler and Mussolini. In the face of crisis, real and contrived each assumed power and then once in power sought to eliminate their opposition and achieve dictatorial power.
In Germany’s case, Hitler rallied the people against a scapegoat, the Jews.
Similarly, today in Washington, we see leadership rallying their forces in opposition to “Fake News.”
Simultaneously offering just that via a parade of Presidential Press Secretaries who seem to excel only in making Saddam Hussein’s Bagdad Bob, blush in inadequacy.
While not yet banning opposition parties or elections, we witness efforts to politicize the census, gerrymander elections and set up impediments to people voting all in furtherance of a desire to cease and maintain power.
On the virus front, the scary news, that two-thirds of us will eventually get Covid 19, or a long-away hoped for vaccination before the pandemic ends.
That was made clear to the German people by Angela Merkle over a month ago. Cluing in her people to the reality of the threat we face.
I heard her warnings on the news and once again developed the recognition that I did not want to die, and the threat was real.
In contrast, our leaders suggested at about the same time the virus would disappear by April’s end. April is now past, but not so the virus.
And so, today it is not just those of us who served in war who feel the angst of not wanting to die, but our entire population.
I fear the master showman, the Barnum and Bailey Fooler in Chief leading us will seek to channel this angst away from his form of bad government to an external foe. China.
And while geneticists so far say that there is every reason to believe the virus emerged naturally from the animal kingdom as has happened so often in the past, there may well be culpability on the Chinese front. Just how much is impossible for you or me to know.
But I do believe that had China had a robust free press, earlier and more accurate news about the virus may have been useful in preparing us for action, had we had a competent government ready and willing to take action.
As a result, today I am deathly afraid of not one but two viruses.
The Covid virus, which we have every reason to believe will eventually infect the majority of us barring a timely arrival of a vaccine, and the political virus which is already infecting our national government.
I hope to survive both, and while I am not itching to fight to the death against Covid, I am inclined to fight for a return to Good Government should the need to do so arise.
I do not want to die. But should it ever come to it, I am willing to do so if that is what it eventually takes to return us to Good Government, although God willing it won’t come to that.