There is much good in the world. In 1847, the Choctaw Nation managed to collect $170 and send it to the starving peasants in Ireland's County Cork to help ease the impacts of the potato famine. This was a lot of money for the Choctaw who had been forcibly removed in the Trail of Tears just nine years before. There is a monument in County Cork to celebrate this generosity.
Today, more than 173 years later, Irish families have sent $2.7 million to the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Reservation to help ease the impacts of the Coronavirus. "The Choctaw showed such decency and humanity and we are still grateful" said Michael Corkery who contributed $200 to the fund. That gratitude after so many years defines good.
There has also been much bad in the world. Last week was the 50th anniversary of the Kent State massacre. Four students were killed and nine injured when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on Kent State University students who were protesting the Vietnam War. There was an iconic picture of a student screaming as she knelt over the body of a fellow student. Arguably this event which was covered extensively in the media changed the tide of public opinion. The ensuing national student strike may have played a role in the downfall of the Nixon Administration although Watergate was the final blow.
The bad here is obvious. The lesson to be learned is that gun violence, whether by protesters or government, has no place in political discourse and the freedom of speech guaranteed by our democratic way of life. We should be able to demonstrate and express our opinions without violence. Our leaders should not encourage nor praise groups that are known to have a tendency or history toward violence.
The ugly is also apparent as governors struggle to balance the need for caution in returning to some degree of normalcy in our social and economic lives. The desire of many to express their individuality by ignoring the need to wear masks or remain a reasonable distance apart achieves nothing but momentary satisfaction. The most recent example happened at the Michigan State Capitol. Some protesters of Governor Gretchen Witmer's extended stay at home order carried long rifles, Nazi Swastikas and Confederate flags. They demanded to be let into the building. Some of the legislators wore bullet proof vests. While this behavior represents only a small percentage of the people at the event, it is clear that such ugliness should not be encouraged or tolerated.
While the history of this pandemic continues to unfold every day, we should all try to remember that the good far outweighs the bad and the ugly. There are certainly heroes and villains, acts of generosity and greed, leadership and pandering. For those threatening or using violence to express their displeasure...chill out. The risks are too great.