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A New Voice
There is a trend on the websites that I turn to for news. I've been seeing a certain kind of story that is meant, I think, to elicit some pretty ugly schadenfreude from the readers. The stories go something like this: a long-time opponent of vaccination or masking — someone who has promoted conspiratorial misinformation in support of their views — comes down with COVID-19 and dies.

“Good!,” comes my first thought. “He deserves it.”

The story often goes on to report that the deceased changed his tune after getting infected. He begs friends and family (who are uniformly devastated at his sad passing) to mask up and get the shot.

“Too late, jackass!” I think. “Eat shit and die.”

I do not like my inner voices to talk this way. Even though this response is accompanied by feelings of righteousness, it is not the family-friendly, G-rated response I’d prefer to hear from my voices. In addition to confirming my worst fears about myself, I believe that such sentiments have a corrosive effect on my soul (if such an entity actually exists).

But I had been hearing a lot more from these voices in recent years. My opinion of my fellow humans has taken a dark turn for the worse during these times. I find more and more that I am categorizing others (like the people in those COVID stories) as idiotic, craven, hopeless, or just plain evil. They have become the other to me, and that is a brand of thinking I despise in them. This troubles me.

So, over the last couple of weeks, I had tried to adjust my thinking about my fellow humans. Rather than seeing of them as stupid, callous, and zombified, I started thinking of these people (who constitute, apparently, just under half of the entire human race) as crazy. Certifiable. Unable to care for their own safety.

I found this approach to be helpful in maintaining my own mental health…at least for awhile. Where once I experienced anger, I was now filled with pity for these folks. The poor things can’t help themselves. Maybe they’ve got some bad chemicals squirting inside their heads, or their mothers did not love them. Whatever it is, it’s not their fault.

Even though it’s been nice to have all that bile removed from my system, I am finding that feeling sorry for other people can also take a toll. Instead of bitterness, I began tasting something else. Pity in large amounts takes on he flavor of spoiled milk after a bit. That's the best I can do at describing it. Too much pitying probably won’t make you sick, but you will want to throw up just in case.

After experiencing that for a while, I decided that I could not handle that feeling, either. So I am trying something else, something other than bile or sour milk. And so far it’s working. Now my official position is that all those people are suffering from temporary insanity.

These are really good people at heart, I now think. They’re just having a bad day, or week, or decade. This makes me feel much better. I still have a bad taste in my mouth, but it’s like the taste of beets. I don’t like it, but at least it won't hurt me.

We’ll see what happens the next time one of those shock jock screamers falls over dead with the virus. If all I can taste is beets, then I just may have saved my soul.

Please Note: Tim Eagan will read your comments but he is currently not publishing them.

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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon