March 17, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

True Confession: I am an odd man with odd interests, particularly when it comes to history. I know more than any normal person should about major-league baseball of the 1920’s, the Washingtonian Movement of the 1840’s, and controversies in the early church.

More darkly, I’ve read much too much and spent more than a reasonable amount of time studying the Plague (aka the Black Plague, the Pestilence, the Great Bubonic Plague and the Blue Sickness). While I could bore (or intrigue) you with details on the Plague’s spread, its societal or economic effects or the church’s response to it, I instead want to share some of the proposed cures for the disease:

–Rubbing a chopped-up snake on the buboes
–Drinking arsenic, mercury or 10-year-old treacle
–Living in a sewer
–Becoming a flagellant, whipping yourself with ropes or branches
–Crushing jewels, particularly emeralds, and eating them

Today, in our enlightened age, we recognize the nonsense of these “cures.” Unfortunately, we may be enlightened but we’re still terrified of the unknown, and no one knows nothing about Covid-19, its future spread or its long-term impact on society. Without leaving home today, I have been emailed, messaged and texted the following bogus information:

–FALSE drinking water will protect you from Covid-19
–FALSE garlic prevents the spread of Covid-19. (This may be partially true, in that eating raw garlic contributes to social distancing.)
–FALSE the United States government created and spread Covid-19 to “cull the herd”
–FALSE inhaling hot air from a hairdryer will cure Covid-19

Luckily, we do know some things that will slow the spread of Covid-19, potentially keeping us from grinding our jewels, living in sewers, or burning our throats and lips by sucking on hair dryers.

These things are:
–Stop handshaking! (Try encouragingly patting people on the back instead.)
–Wash your hands!
–Keep your hands away from your face!
–Stay at least three feet away from other folks, especially if they’re sick!
–Don’t gather in groups larger than 10! Period!

This last one is hard for many of us in recovery, I know. It’s just not the same to have the “meeting before the meeting” in a Zoom space. There’s no pleasure in asking folks after the meeting if they’d like to group text about the good times they had at Chili’s or the pizza place. I do understand. Really.

My first year in recovery I went to a meeting every single day—or went to two meetings today to make up for one I missed yesterday. Meetings kept me sober, and I feel for those new to recovery whose meeting schedules have been disrupted, whose chance to develop face-to-face relationships has been ruptured, who have to rely on real support in a virtual setting.

“It sucks.”

Yes, it does.

“It’s not fair.”

You’re absolutely right.

“And don’t give me that crap about ‘acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.’”

Whether it’s crap or not is open for argument. Let’s go with “We are here. It is now. The rest is all moonshine.” Choosing to live in reality means, unfortunately, living in reality.

Please, Hope Nation, stay away from gatherings of more than 10 people, but don’t stay away from the support they used to offer—and will again! Reach out and support each other. Call a friend in recovery. Call your old second-grade teacher. Hell, if you don’t have anyone else, call me (603)361-6266.

Also, don’t suck on hairdryers.

You matter. I matter. We matter.


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