I promise I’m not pointing a finger — the adage says if I point one at you, there are four pointing back at me — so, for the record, we, the people, aren’t responsible for everything that’s wrong in our world. Are we responsible for some things? Yes. From climate change and increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases to mass shootings, to uneven laws and justice and enforcement, to blaming and demonizing — shall I go on? It’s not you personally — I doubt you have a drought or flood machine in your basement — but when we refuse to pay attention to the science related to atmospheric changes and the severe effects of global warming, we basically say, “I want what I want, and that’s all that matters.” When we refuse to wear COVIDgenerated masks, socially distance and get vaccinated, we again say that our personal freedoms take precedence over what’s best for everyone. I, too, got all excited about getting vaccinated and back out into creation, then along came variants. If we’re not careful, we’ll have those devastating numbers we saw earlier this year. COVID-related illnesses are no joke. A recent news report showed two teenaged brothers who had been stricken days before they were eligible for vaccination. They’d been hospitalized for three or more months with one improving and the other still critically ill. When I’m wearing my mask, I see only a few who’re also wearing one. No, I don’t enjoy having my glasses fogged when I’m choosing potatoes at the grocery store. But this honor system for nonvaccinated people does not give me confidence. I don’t think a card showing vaccination status is the way to go either. But we mustn’t ignore the facts: COVID rages on, and it’s dangerous. Vaccinations were uneventful and masks can be fashionable — even if they aren’t, wear one to stop the spread of this debilitating disease. Experts are predicting that if we don’t take precautions and get vaccinated, we’ll be back to the devastating numbers we saw earlier this year. We keep talking about employee shortages, but we forget that all those 600,000 people we lost to COVID weren’t retired or unable to work. Those deaths changed everything; families were decimated, and the human and emotional toll will haunt us for generations. Vaccinations aren’t a magic cure; but for now, they’re a pretty fine solution. The increase of mass shootings, flight disruptions and pure violence is staggering and scary. What’s making us so angry, intolerant, impatient, rage-filled, mean, hateful and careless with our humanity? And, if there wasn’t already enough gun violence, we loosened laws so that any person who wants to go “packing” can. Here’s something we broke, so we must get up off our sixshooters and fix it. Uneven justice, laws and enforcement and their impact on communities and families is the color of a whole ’nother horse, so I’ll have to ride it another day. But whining about the condition our condition’s in won’t fix our issues. Wringing our hands won’t, either. Obviously, I don’t have all the solutions, or I’d be somewhere on a veranda sipping mint juleps (whatever in the world that is). But we each have a responsibility to live in peace and harmony, to do our best to love and care for one another, and to see a need and fill it. Songwriters Jill and Sy Miller had the right idea when they wrote, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” Even if everything was on fire when we laid down on it, their words can also be our prayer today.

CYNTHIA A. BOND HOPSON, Ph.D., of Cordova is a native Tennessean, educator, author and mentor. She and her husband, Roger, lived in Paris twice. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook@drbondhopson.

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