TRUE STORIES: “Gee, Mr. Wizard, that’s really simple!”

J.T. Knoll

On Wednesday I woke up emotionally conflicted but intellectually clear.

Gratitude, anger, fear, disappointment and depression were all mashing around inside me because of what my brain’s prefrontal cortex was telling me I needed to do — return to masking up and social distancing.

For, you see, ‘The train has left the station,’ ‘The horse is out of the barn.’ ‘The Delta Covid-19 variant is here and mutating.’

Still, I’m grateful that, after getting the vaccine, I had a few months of normalcy with friends and family; a magical gathering in Fayetteville, intimate suppers out with Linda on both our birthdays, a Royals game with my son, a reunion with family at the Idle Hour for chicken and onion rings, two family gathering on the at the Onelio farm, a return to in-person Al-Anon meetings and gathering with my Talking Heads discussion group, and singing again at the nursing home and Farmer’s Market.

But my gratitude regularly gets pushed down by anger and resentment at the former president who denied the virus and helped it spread, the politicians who went along with him, the TV, radio and social media pundits whose rhetoric encouraged people to refuse the vaccination, and the people who still have not gotten the shot.

My depression, disappointment and fear are pretty self-explanatory. Hope, though, not so much. But I did get a little this morning. A kind of a dream, really; a return to the 1950s concept of the benefits of medical science in an episode of ‘Watch Mr. Wizard.’

Two kids are coming through the door to Mr. Wizard’s house right now. “Hi Mr. Wizard, watcha’ doing?”

“Come on down here and I’ll show you. It’s about the Covid-19 virus.”

“Hey, Mr. Wizard, that looks like a teeter-totter with one of those Covid spikey things on one end. Pretty scary. My grandpa got it had to go to the hospital.”

 "I’m so sorry, Tommy. It is scary. I hope your grandpa’s okay. Can you tell me what’s on the other end of the teeter-totter?”

“Humm. Looks like a thing for giving shots.”

“Correct. That’s called a syringe. See how the spikey Covid thing has all the weight at the bottom and the teeter-totter is down? That’s because there’s not enough people taking the shot on the other end.”

“I get it. The more people who get the shot, the more the teeter-totter will balance and then drop … and less people will get the spikey virus. Then I can go to school in person without a mask!”

“Right, Tommy.”

“Gee, Mr. Wizard, that’s really simple. I’m gonna’ tell everyone I know about this.”

“Well,” the announcer says as Tommy goes out the door, “after Tommy began telling people about the teeter-totter and Covid, more and more people got the message and the vaccination until, in the end, the balance changed, and Covid was not making people sick, overloading the hospitals, killing people, and causing people to wear masks and social distance. Gee, thanks Mr. Wizard!”

But that’s just that, a black and white dream. Truth is, a large portion of the resistors will not get vaccinated on the basis of simple science and logic. They need to be forced.

The NFL says that teams will forfeit and be slapped with a loss if a game is cancelled because of a COVID-19 outbreak among their unvaccinated players — and neither team's players will be paid.

President Biden, just yesterday, announced plans to require federal workers to be vaccinated or undergo repeated testing.

A good start, but there’s way more to do to catch up with reality.

Starting August 6th, a ‘green pass’ (proof of vaccination) will be required in Italy to access hospitality businesses, public swimming pools, gyms and sports halls, sports events, concerts, fairs and cultural venues such as museums, cinemas, and theatres. France already has these restrictions in place.

Sure there will be resistors. Max McCoy addressed this, both here in Kansas and across the nation, in an opinion column in the Kansas Reflector this week comparing Covid to smallpox.

“In 1840 the British government began passing laws that made inoculation compulsory. But in the United States, where smallpox had hit the colonies hard and then spread to First Peoples populations, inoculation mandates began earlier. Massachusetts was the first state to require vaccination of the general population, in 1809. Other states soon followed.

But the anti-vaccinationists fought back, here and in England. In addition to fantasies the vaccine would turn people into cows, there were claims that sound strikingly familiar now: the vaccine was a hoax, it wasn’t effective, the risk of injury or death from the inoculation was too great, the death rate from the smallpox had been exaggerated.”

Nevertheless, science won out and countries around the world persisted. The United States ended mandatory vaccinations for smallpox in 1972, because the disease had been largely beaten and smallpox was declared ‘eradicated’ by the World Health Organization in 1980.

Max McCoy’s column ends as with this paragraph: “Personal freedom is not absolute. It comes with responsibility to the community. That’s why there are speed limits, and stop signs, and laws against lobbing dynamite over your neighbor’s fence. The unvaccinated have the perfect right to believe whatever claptrap they want, but we should not allow them to drag us back into the demon-haunted world of the pre-Enlightenment.”

Indeed. As he wrote in the title to his Reflector column: “Vaccination rates are flat while COVID cases rise. Let’s stop compromising with crazy.”

J.T. Knoll is a writer, speaker and eulogist. He also operates Knoll Training & Consulting in Pittsburg. He can be reached at 231-0499 or jtknoll@swbell.net