It’s that time of year in Montana when summer winds down, the nights get cooler, leaves begin to wear their fall colors and “harvest season” is in full bloom. Humans, not unlike the grizzly bears, are preparing for the Montana winter ahead, enjoying the fruits of their labors on the land while the hunters prepare to head for the field.
Yet, we are also reaping what has been sown in ways considerably less pleasant thanks to political leaders and a minority of the population who, for reasons unfathomable to thinking individuals, continue their low-key civil war against science and a disease that makes no distinctions based on political affiliation.
It would be great to say we whipped COVID and look forward to returning to the normalcy we took for granted only a couple short years ago. You know, going out socially, sending your kids off to school to make new friends and learn new things, feeling comfortable giving loved ones a hug. But that’s not the way it is — and more’s the pity.
The fact is, the majority of Americans are now having their lives upended, disrupted and threatened by the minority who refuse to acknowledge the efficacy of vaccines, the wisdom of precautionary measures, and the absolute necessity to employ these easy and readily available tools if we are ever going to beat COVID and find a semblance of safety and normalcy again.
President Biden, realizing that relying merely on “personal responsibility” isn’t working just issued orders requiring federal employees, contractors and those in health facilities receiving federal funding to be vaccinated. The same head-in-the-sand politicians who are resisting and condemning those common sense steps can howl all they want, but the fact is the vaccinated majority has just about had all of the baloney being shoveled out by the clueless minority they can take. And they’re now beginning to show that, as President Biden noted in his national address last week: “Our patience is wearing thin... and your refusal is costing all of us.”
Biden’s comments were specifically targeted at the approximately 80 million Americans who remain unvaccinated by their own decision, not by any inability to receive the free vaccines. There are now 333,310,170 Americans and the non-vaccinated citizens — a mere one-quarter of our vaccine-eligible citizenry — are holding the other three-fourths of our populace hostage to their unsupported and anti-science resistance to taking the necessary measures to fight the pandemic that has caused so much suffering and death already.
It’s also mighty tough to argue that Biden was wrong when he put the onus for this tragedy right where it belongs — on grandstanding anti-science politicians like Montana’s Gov. Greg Gianforte. “We have the tools to combat COVID-19, and a distinct minority of Americans, supported by a distinct minority of elected officials, are keeping us from turning the corner. These pandemic politics, as I refer to it, are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die. We cannot let these actions stand in the way of protecting the large majority of Americans who have done their part and want to get back to life as normal."
Indeed, in this nation where the majority is supposed to “rule” there’s no viable excuse for allowing an arrogant minority to continue to inflict harm on the rest of society in far too many ways to count. We, the majority, have indeed “done our part.” It’s true that you reap what you sow — but the responsible majority no longer wants to reap what the irresponsible minority and its political leaders continue to so recklessly sow.
George Ochenski writes from Helena. His column appears each Monday on the Missoulian's Opinion page.