Carmen Abner

Wishful Thinking 

I’ve written about our Grandson Ben before. He is an endless source of inspiration.  Ben is 4 years old, so he’s not yet really good at accepting things when they aren’t what he wants them to be. As an example, recently I found a very young snapping turtle.  It being late in the year it didn’t seem its chances of making through the winter were very good. We decided to keep it in an aquarium for the winter and let it go in the Spring.

Now, Ben is in love with all critters so as soon as he saw the little turtle for the first time he wanted very much to touch and pet it.  We explained the little turtle might bite him because it might think he was either food or a danger to it, so it might not be a good idea.  His immediate response was, “I think it probably won’t think I’m food. So, can I pet it.”  After a couple repetitions of this it was decided that, as small as the turtle was, it probably wouldn’t hurt him much if it did bite him and he would learn something about wishful thinking in the process.  As it turned out, the turtle didn’t bite him. But it could easily have gone the other way.  That’s the problem with wishful thinking.  Sometimes it works out, which can lead to a false sense of security.

As I said, Ben is four and isn’t really good yet at accepting things that are what he wants them to be.  Unfortunately, it seems, there is a large number of full-grown adults who still aren’t very good at accepting things when they aren’t what they want them to be.  The response to the current pandemic crisis is a big example of that.

I know there are quite a few people who are still planning a big Thanksgiving this year and I’m very worried about that.  In my job here at the paper we get all the statistics, cases throughout the state and country and the death toll. I really fear for the lives of my fellow Jackson Countians.  I’m a nerd from way back and nerds have a habit of cutting through all the drama to get at the truth. We just have to  know, as much as it’s possible, what is really happening in the world so we can make good decisions and try to forestall tragedy.  This virus is real, y’all and it’s dangerous and it doesn’t respect our wishes. I know some people have been ignoring the health and safety suggestions and refusing to wear masks and continuing to gather because they “think the virus probably isn’t real and, if it is, they probably won’t catch it and probably won’t die and probably won’t pass it on to someone weaker who also probably won’t die.”  That wishful thinking has worked out for them so far, or most of them.  Some have changed their tune after they or a family member or friend has become deathly ill or passed as a result.  Those who have escaped it so far have become even more convinced that the turtle probably won’t think it’s food.

Now, it’s one thing if what you’re wishful thinking about really doesn’t stand a chance of hurting you very much.  It is quite another if you’re gambling on your health, your life or someone else’s. 

You’ll find an article elsewhere in the paper about the potential vaccines that look very promising.  There is now light at the end of the tunnel that has been 2020.

This Thanksgiving I hope people will deeply consider the implications of the chances they are willing to take.  I hope they will be thankful for the people in their lives and thankful to the opportunity to protect them by simply leaving out a big gathering.  I worry that some won’t and that the luck of the turtle will finally wear out.  I worry that, come Easter, when there will be true hope of controlling the virus, there will be people missing. They’ll be missing from the Easter Egg hunts and family dinners and Church celebrations and there will be family members still mourning them and knowing that they might still have been there if not for wishful thinking. Let us give thanks for the people we have in our lives and let us do our best to try to keep them with us. I think it’s probably going to be a long hard winter and I think that, probably, wishful thinking will just make it harder if we’re not willing to be smarter than a 4 year old. 

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