For one another

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This is the time of year we encourage one another to think of others, to give, and to be thankful for all the blessings in our lives.

The year 2020 will never be remembered fondly as a year of prosperity, comfort and calm. And as it winds down, we are left with one final question – will we end it better than we started it?

Call it COVID fatigue, call it obstinance, call it paranoia, fear or just anger, but as we trudge down the same path that carried us into skyrocketing case numbers of the virus, hospital crowding and a death toll hard to make sense of, there seems to be even more resistance to putting family, neighbors and even strangers first when it comes to taking precautions to try and mitigate the spread.

There is a new surge, every bit as devastating as the first surge many labeled as fake and overblown. As we watch the numbers skyrocket again, it is difficult to not see us collectively as even more ridiculous this time around.

Reach for a hot pan once and someone might say, “well, now you know.” Do it twice and they just look at you in confusion.

When the State and local governments began first implementing restrictions in mid-March on businesses, closing schools and promoting individual safety precautions, statewide case numbers were less than 10,000 with very few fatalities. In Williamson County, there were fewer than 100 cases.

In May, people had had enough, and restrictions began to be slowly lifted. Texas had just under 30,000 cases total, and 801 deaths up to May 1. Williamson County had 306 cases and 10 deaths.

The surge that followed resulted in 103,775 cases in Texas in June, 262,423 in July and 186,848 in August, dwarfing the original numbers that led us to be so careful in the beginning. Numbers dwindled, but never dipped below 100,000 in a month and now Texas has had more than a million cases and 19,000 deaths.

With 134,658 cases halfway through November and 1,019 deaths, this month could turn out to be one of the worst since the beginning.

Despite those numbers, in our community, we see more and more signs that some people have just had enough. Social media comments ranting against possible new restrictions, telling people they should just live their lives, and issue brief declarations against masks and other “overwhelming” restrictions that threaten some “freedom”.

It’s time we did something for one another. Wear the mask. Stay home when you have a choice. Social distance and think of others when you don’t.

We should not gather for festivals or holiday events. Not in Liberty Hill or anywhere else. Time and again over the last 10 months we’ve seen tragic results from those decisions. Do any of us in Liberty Hill believe that a large gathering to celebrate the holiday is more important than any 10 lives in our community?

By now most of us have been touched by coronavirus somehow in our lives. If the only impact you have felt is the fear that your liberty is being siphoned off in some secret scheme to steal your freedom, then consider yourself lucky.

There is truly a common good, and while we can all understand it, many of us still have trouble ever considering it before we think of our own small aches, pains and grumbles.

We are supposed to care about one another, and in this time the best way to care for someone else is to recognize that selfish decisions could cost others and their families dearly.

This is a time we all want to be together. We want to celebrate, worship and reacquaint ourselves with friends and family who feel very distant these days. But is any of it more important than someone’s health and life? Is a celebration now or a declaration of freedom to do as we please today going to mean much in the early days of 2021 if we are left watching thousands die again and cities creating makeshift hospitals in the streets?

It happened. It will certainly happen again if we don’t make mitigation a priority. And while we were foolish the first time in our slow reaction, we will be willfully negligent this time around, and all that love, charity and grace we share through the holidays will seem like a very hollow gesture.

For one another, let’s focus on mitigating the risk and limiting the spread of this virus, and look forward to a better 2021 because we finished 2020 thinking of each other.

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