Shelter Island Reporter editorial: Keep us from temptation

“COVID, COVID, COVID,” President Trump intoned at his rallies as he ran for a second term, telling his followers that the “fake news” media was covering the devastation produced by a once-in-a-century public health emergency in order to hurt his re-election chances. After the election, he predicted, you’ll never hear another word about COVID, COVID, COVID.

If only that were true.

No one this side of sanity believed him. But Mr. Trump’s tolling of the word reminds us that the pandemic is very much with us and getting worse, as Dr. Anthony Fauci forecast, and as the federal government is now warning us to be prepared for some terrible times ahead.

The drumbeat of news about spiking numbers of cases, hospitalizations, deaths and new, more contagious strains has, for many of us, created “COVID fatigue,” as Nancy Green eloquently wrote for the Reporter this week: https://shelterislandreporter.timesreview.com/2021/01/25/coping-with-the-crisis-fighting-covid-caution-fatigue/

After nearly a year now of wearing masks — is that still a political issue? — keeping distant from people and staying in, the virus has spawned a raging new side effect, COVID cabin fever.

It’s caused us to bargain with ourselves: It really won’t be too bad to see those loved ones. Let’s hit a bar for a celebration or just to wet our whistles in the company of others. I can accept that invitation to the annual Super Bowl party, right?  Why can’t we begin to live like we used to, to enjoy life and not have to listen to official killjoys preaching at us day and night?

A bargain, yes. But a terrible one.

We applaud Police Chief Jim Read and Supervisor Gerry Siller for, almost every time they bring reports of the pandemic to residents, reminding us to wear masks, wash our hands and keep our distance from people. As Dr. Fauci and other public health professionals have said, the most effective way to stay safe will be when vaccinations finally can be administered on a large scale.

But there’s another way to keep the pandemic demon at bay for us and our families and friends — you know the drill. You just have to follow it.

Samuel Johnson wrote: “Courage is the greatest of all virtues, because if you haven’t courage, you may not have an opportunity to use any of the others.”

Courage will help us find and use another essential tool for bearing up under the wearying presence of the pandemic and keep us from temptations — patience. It might be the most difficult virtue to employ consistently over a long period but, as the ancient Greeks teach us, patience is bitter, but the fruit it bears is sweet.