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OPINION | MIKE MASTERSON: Ignore downers

by Mike Masterson | August 3, 2021 at 2:00 a.m.

This life experience we share is filled with ups and downs of every shape and form. Such fluctuations go with the territory of steadily hiking through the meadows and briars.

That said, perhaps, like me, you have problems with those who are needlessly abrupt, curt and unfriendly in their demeanor.

That approach to co-existence is foreign to me. My basic nature since childhood has been to strive for happiness, friendship, sense of purpose and laughter. So I have trouble understanding generally dismissive, insulting and disrespectful attitudes.

Thankfully over a lengthy career and ample life, I've been largely spared from dealing with that many clearly unhappy and unfulfilled types.

I've found them generally to be self-absorbed loners and petty in many respects. I feel a degree of sorrow that they choose to bear such chronic unhappiness.

At the same time, I've thankfully enjoyed decades of frequently interacting with positive, relatively happy people who have a sense of humor and care enough to express interest in my thoughts and life (or at least act like they do). They definitely enrich my experience.

It's also been my observation that the best way to react to naysayers and downers is to simply ignore them whenever possible and react to their sour demeanor as little as possible.

Life is just too unpredictable and brief to let folks who perceive the experience so differently than I do prompt negative reactions within my spirit that could easily prove malignant.

State of emergency

I've previously written that I'm in no position to advise others when it comes to what they choose to put into their bodies, including vaccines that are proven to reduce the effects of viral infection and save lives.

That said, I'm acknowledging again that Jeanetta and I elected to have our covid-19 vaccinations six months ago--without side effects. We are thankful for their protection.

At the time these shots were offered as genuine hope for ending the pandemic and moving our state and nation back toward a normal existence, the opportunity seemed a Godsend to millions.

Since then we've learned that while the vaccines can--and do--help prevent contracting the virus, they also are effective at greatly reducing potentially fatal effects from the disease. That includes eliminating the need for hospitalizations and ventilators among those who happen to catch the scourge.

In that respect alone, this remarkable ability to avoid the agony and suffering is what I consider a GodNod given humanity to provide a proverbial lifejacket to millions awash in this destructive and turbulent sea of infection.

Today, the pandemic has re-emerged with a vengeance in the form of the highly transmittable Delta variant that here in Harrison has overwhelmed the hospital along with medical facilities in nearby Springfield. And things aren't improving across our state, as evidenced by the state of public health emergency our governor was forced to reimpose last week.

Overflowing emergency rooms and ICUs at hospitals in our state and elsewhere have rapidly become chaotic in the words of a physician I respect.

By and large, this resurgence of the disease (that until a few months ago seemed under control) is now most often described as a pandemic of those who for whatever reason have decided not to allow vaccines to protect them and those close to them.

This decision truly feels to me like vulnerable fellow citizens treading treacherous waters while refusing a lifeboat sent to save them.

And that's sad, especially considering I already have lost three friends to covid-19 who never had the opportunity to easily get this protection, having succumbed before vaccines were available. I feel certain each would have survived had they been vaccinated.

I'm also convinced that, if given the chance, they'd jump with gratitude at that simple inoculation that would have saved their lives.

According to those I trust, the Pfizer doses we received in January and February help ensure that if we do still contract the virus in a so-called 'breakthrough" case, the odds are great we won't be hospitalized, placed on a ventilator, or die in a sterile hospital room without family nearby.

Remember that nightmare from last winter, including the thoroughly exhausted and burned-out nurses and medical personnel? Another winter looms over the horizon, and these medical professionals are more exhausted than ever.

All I'm suggesting, valued readers, is to reconsider your decision if you've yet to receive the vaccine. Significantly reduce the odds of you contracting (and spreading) the virus, or having to perhaps lie gasping on a gurney for a bed in an already flooded hospital. Heaven forbid you should experience a heart attack or medical emergency and have to seek help in one of these already jam-packed facilities.

It doesn't have to be this way. Just food for thought that hopefully could help save you considerable suffering or worse.

Like my friends too soon departed from this life.


Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

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