Friends around the globe are coping with the worldwide coronavirus in various ways. Some are in full panic mode, but most are adjusting to life as it has become the past couple of weeks. One friend asked, “Who is your favorite poet?” It’s been a long time since I thought about that, but immediately Rudyard Kipling and his poem “If” came to mind, and seems to be appropriate considering life these days. “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you …”
CNN is still fretting over all that’s wrong with President Donald Trump’s response to the crisis and blaming him for all that is wrong in America. Nevertheless, Trump has maintained a surprisingly calm demeanor during daily hostile Q&A sessions with the press. Don’t go to CNN if you want to “keep your head.”
The rest of Kipling’s first verse goes like this: “If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too; if you can wait and not be tired by waiting, or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, or being hated, don’t give way to hating, and yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise …” Interestingly, these lines reflect Trump’s public persona much more than his critics’ reactions, and yet, even his critics would agree with the last two points of the verse.
Those who don’t know our Constitution, the roles of government at local, state, and federal levels, or the nature of a pandemic are losing their heads over things they neither know nor appreciate.
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The pandemic is worldwide yet must be dealt with at the local level. No one can wave a magic wand and protect a whole nation. We fight pandemics at the local level one person at a time. Pandemics will overwhelm medical services unless communities practice protocols limiting exposure to the disease and maximizing isolation and personal treatment for those most vulnerable.
The federal government is neither constitutionally responsible for meeting all local needs, nor capable of doing so. Each level of government plays a different role in dealing with a pandemic. Obviously, local officials and medical providers are on the front lines dealing with one patient after another continually 24/7. These are true heroes and heroines who must be fully supported by communities they serve.
States are responsible for logistics of prioritizing and delivering resources to communities according to local needs. Areas hardest hit need resources immediately. States must remain engaged in delivering resources to every community, and cannot be 100-percent dependent on federal resources, but must seek resources from all providers.
While the federal government cannot provide direct aid to meet every local need, it can and should call on every provider to maximize resources, and coordinate with states to ensure resources are being delivered as effectively and efficiently as possible. More importantly, federal government should develop a national strategy that local and state governments could enforce to contain outbreaks and resist the spread of the pandemic.
Federal, state and local governments are doing everything they can to slow and control the spread of this pandemic. The bigger problem has been mass panic in grocery and drug stores initiated and spurred on by irresponsible reports and opinions from certain segments of national media who have lost their heads. Don’t fall prey to their hysterics.
Daniel L. Gardner is a syndicated columnist who lives in Starkville, Mississippi. You may contact him at PJandMe2@gmail.com.
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