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A season lacking holiday cheer - and a willingness to act for the common good | READER COMMENTARY

Demonstrators shout slogans while carrying a sign calling for a recall on Gov. Gavin Newsom Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020 during a protest against a stay-at-home order amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Huntington Beach, Calif. . (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Demonstrators shout slogans while carrying a sign calling for a recall on Gov. Gavin Newsom Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020 during a protest against a stay-at-home order amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Huntington Beach, Calif. . (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

What began as a letter to include in our Christmas cards has quickly morphed instead to this, as I found that I could not avoid the insipid and couldn’t even write a tongue-in-cheek missive. I was not spreading tidings of good cheer.

Projections for deaths due to COVID-19 are as high as 500,000 by January, and yet there remains a large part of the population disavowing the virus entirely. Some recognize it, but claim it is “only the flu.” Our hospitals are crowded, and our caregivers overworked and overwhelmed, and still many deny the urgency. After Gov. Larry Hogan’s recent speech cautioning Marylanders about the risks of travel and Thanksgiving gatherings, one person left the comment: “I am having 20 people over to my house on Thursday, so take THAT, Hogie!!” (”Maryland to step up enforcement of coronavirus restrictions ahead of Thanksgiving with help of state police,” Nov. 23).

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And while I’d like to think that this spiteful individual is one of only a few, I suspect with all the outrage expressed by having to wear masks that he is not. Seems Americans have a horrid case of “you’re not the boss of me,” and it is killing us.

Yes, our country was founded on ideas of independence and individuality. These traits were nurtured by many long after the last shot of the Revolutionary War was fired and Bostonians could sip their untaxed tea. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, for instance, called for independence from sameness and following the crowd. And while these ideas are crucial to a burgeoning democracy and certainly inspirational, right now they are our most certain demise.

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I miss meeting up with our friends. I miss going to restaurants, attending football games or concerts. I imagine with inordinate glee walking into a store and shopping regardless of occupancy. And I adore the idea of being able to see through my glasses without the fog created by a mask.

This country has endured many challenges, but we’ve always come together and worked for the common good. I’m hoping that with actual leadership from a new administration we can unite to overtake this current threat, but I am frightened given the animosity that has festered for the last four years.

Kathryn L. Ariano, Columbia

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