An Unintended Polemic
An old and dear friend of mine recently used the term “polemic” in describing my writings in TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Less. I’m not suggesting he was wrong to do so; in fact, I do believe he is probably quite right in his ascription. But nonetheless, I must acknowledge that the term surprised me. You see, I do not consider TRUTH to be a polemic, even though it could rightfully be said to be one. For those of you scrambling for your online dictionaries, fret not; I’ll save you the trouble. A polemic could best be characterized as an argumentative format of writing or as Merriam Webster puts it, “an aggressive attack on or refutation of the opinions or principles of another, the art of disputation or controversy.” And while I will own MW’s secondary definition of “aggressive controversialist”, I just don’t see my writings as arguments per se, and certainly not counter-arguments or refutations of anything or anyone else. I’m just spouting my own perspective here. I am more than aware that opinions are just like assholes- everybody’s got one, and they’re usually full of shit. And just like those kids you dropped off at the pool, mine aren’t worth anything more than yours are. I just happen to articulate mine with a bit more panache.
That is, after all, the whole impetus behind calling this damn thing TRUTH in the first place. I’ve had people question how I could dare label an opinion column TRUTH when clearly it is just my opinion and not empirical truth. Well, yeah, dumbass, that’s the whole play on words going there. It is the truth for me. If you don’t like it or agree with it, that’s fine by me. Don’t read it. Or better yet, have the guts to read it and disagree with it, maybe even question your own perspective for a fleeting moment or two. Shoot, write your own darn column and title it TRUE…ish: In 1000 mediocre words or probably a lot less. To be honest, I really just don’t give a damn.
That’s because I recognize that these are just my perspectives- the lunar ramblings of a quasi-deranged mind. But every once in awhile, there are some nuggets of verifiable truth in there, glimpses of fact that you can ignore if you like, but you do so at your own peril because fact is fact, and it don’t give a damn whether you want to accept its validity or not. And when you choose to do so, it often has a way of smacking you upside you ignorant, little head.
Take, for example, the continued vaccine hesitancy amongst certain demographics, even as the omicron variant surges in many areas of the country. I am no longer here to judge or moralize anyone else’s personal decisions. My immediate family has all been vaccinated and have thus weathered this pandemic fairly well. Both of my kids got Covid back in December and early January, but foreach of them, it was not much more than a common cold. My daughter was itching to get back out skiing shortly after testing positive, and my son had a couple of days with a sore throat and a desire to sleep for about seventeen hours straight. Then again, ever since he became a disgruntled, angst-ridden teenager, the latter can be said to describe most of his Saturdays during the school year. Both my girlfriend and I have been boosted, and despite having these cootie-infected beings all up in our grill for days one end, we have consistently tested negative for Covid. In other words, the vaccines work. Just as scientists have repeatedly informed us, while the vaccines ideally prevent the transmission of the disease, they diminish its virility even if one does contract the virus. So given that everyone in my household has been fully protected, at this point, I’m not here to argue with anyone about their own personal choices.
But I’m also not here to make light of the consequences of those decisions. A relative of mine contracted Covid a few weeks back, and ended up intubated in the ICU. As the doctor put it when he was admitted to the hospital with direly-low oxygen levels, “It is not unlikely that you are going to die from this.” I even put off publishing this column until his recovery, while painful and protracted, was finally imminent. His vaccine status? Yeah, you already guessed it.
Now, I’m no fan of anecdotal evidence, but this epidemic really has become a Tale of Two Parties. Those who are vaccinated have begun to shrug off most of the impending doom of catching a virus that has killed nearly a million people in the United States alone. They have largely gone back to their regular day-to-day lives with a few mildly irksome safeguards lingering in their periphery. But if you think the same is true for the unvaccinated, you simply have not been paying attention to the soaring number of hospitalizations, largely fueled by unvaccinated Covid patients. You may ignore the data all you like, but they are what they are: striking. Even though only about about 1/3 (36%) of the U.S. population remains unvaccinated, they currently make up 78% of current Covid hospitalizations nationwide. That means that if you are unvaccinated, you are 12 times more likely to end up in the hospital with Covid than someone who is. That’s not an argument, not some type of cleverly-worded polemic. That’s just plain fact.
Sometimes there is no argument to be made, rather just an opportunity to present the facts and let people make the consequent decisions for themselves. In the end, call it what you will, polemic or not, but that is what I think TRUTH does best: it gives people a perspective and allows them to decide what to do with it. What you decide to do with this one is up to you. I, for one, just don’t give a damn.
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com