Being ‘uncomfortable’ over losses

The pandemic became real for me in mid-March, as my partner and I decided to refrain from visiting family for the duration of the crisis — a period we hoped would prove brief. Normally, we’d make the trip to Fredonia to see my parents every couple of weekends, depending on what was going on in all our lives, for Sunday dinner or to watch movies.

My mom, Roberta, was an English teacher at Fredonia High School for 20 years, until a lymphoma diagnosis in 2014 forced her to take an early retirement. It was her ongoing struggle with cancer that informed my decision to stay away. It was too dangerous to risk bringing a deadly virus into contact with her embattled immune system.

No one can say for certain what would have happened if we’d had different leadership in this country over the past years. The pandemic was coming anyway.

But it seems likely that it would have been less severe if we’d had a national leader with greater qualities of intelligence, selflessness, and honor than we do. The evidence is in the way many other nations have more successfully managed their own crises.

My mother died on Aug. 28. Her condition worsened unexpectedly, and then she was gone. I don’t know how many opportunities I would have taken to spend time with her if it had been safe to do so. We so often have cause to regret the choices we make. But what I can say with certainty to every blinkered “culture warrior” who made a political issue out of wearing masks or social distancing, to every second amendment fetishist who cheered on the acts of intimidation at the capitals of states whose leaders tried to do the right thing, to every last Trump supporter whose ill-informed subservience prolonged this disaster: I will always blame you for the time I lost with my mother. And I will never forgive you.

My mother was an incredible teacher, an amazing gift to her students, a woman whose progressive lessons and examples will continue to ripple for generations, well beyond the paltry inculcation of intolerance preached by your leader.

One of her greatest lessons was that the powerful must always be uncomfortable. And that, Trump supporters, is what you’re feeling right now — not anger or indignation, as you might be tempted to misinterpret it.

You are uncomfortable in the harsh light of this truth. And that discomfort is how you can tell that you are on the wrong side of politics, of history, and indeed, of morality. Embrace that discomfort, and seek to do better.

Alex Andrasik is a Penn Yan resident.


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