Let’s all take a deep breath, shall we? Yes, the coronavirus is serious — just how serious has yet to be determined — but use the good sense God has given you and we will get through it. I promise.

My brother reminded me recently that we faced a somewhat similar situation decades ago with the spread of polio and the uncertainty and fear that insidious disease brought. At its peak in the 1940s and 1950s, polio would paralyze or kill over half a million people worldwide annually.

In 1952 alone, almost 60,000 cases were reported in the U.S. with over 3,100 deaths and 21,000 left with some level of paralysis. A neighbor of ours was diagnosed with polio that year and confined to an iron lung to facilitate her breathing. Polio also struck Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who began availing himself of the therapeutic waters of Warm Springs prior to his presidency and later established the Little White House there.

Polio was later brought under control and virtually eradicated worldwide, thanks to efforts of Dr. Jonas Salk and later, Albert Sabin. The U.S. was declared polio free in 1994. I predict the same will happen with COVID-19.

Speaking of which, there is no need to buy up all the hand sanitizers and toilet paper on earth. Instead of being selfish snoots, why don’t we reverse course and show the best that is in us? A good example: Making my usual pilgrimage to the Chick-fil-A in Vinings, I was tottering across the parking lot with my walking cane, which seems to have become a part of my life these days, thanks to a terminal case of the clumsies that resulted in a cracked kneecap. A young Cobb County fireman was headed into the restaurant but saw me coming and waited and waited (I don’t totter fast) to hold the door open for me. A magnanimous gesture.

Because of his kindness and patience, I bought my lunch and then over his protestations bought his. One good deed deserves another. Frankly, it made me feel good and it was a way to show my appreciation for this young man whose momma raised him to respect his elders and who has a much more dangerous job than I do (although a few of you can get kind of squirrely at times.) Wouldn’t it be nice if kindness could spread as far and as fast as the coronavirus seems to be doing?

If we all stay home as we have been urged to do for the foreseeable future, we are going to have a lot of free time on our hands. There are going to be no Braves games to watch, no Final Four, no Masters, no high school competitions, no concerts, no opera and no events at the Strand Theatre. This tells me that we need to get busy making a silk purse out of the ol’ sow’s ear. (Thinking of stuff like this is just one more reason why I get paid the big bucks.)

Instead of trying to buy up all the Lysol on the planet, why don’t you use the time to call an old friend and let them know you are thinking about them? Or, better still, write them a note. We are all a little jumpy these days and it is no bad thing assuring or being assured that we are there for each other.

Take a little quiet time and reflect on your blessings. I suspect they are more abundant than we all are willing to admit. Read a good book. Order up a movie you haven’t seen or would like to see again. Memorize a poem. Write your own poem. Study up on the Higgs boson and why it is important. Try to remember the names of everyone in your 7th grade class. Recite the 23rd Psalm. Learn to juggle.

Hopefully, this should keep us occupied for a while. In the meantime, let us pledge to keep it all in perspective. This, too, shall pass. Just exercise good judgment, be patient and don’t hoard the Lysol.

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You can reach Dick Yarbrough at dick@dickyarbrough.com; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb.


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