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Kelly Cheek
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As far as my eyes can see, there are shadows surrounding me

This week, we were touched by COVID. Linda and I have both been vaccinated, so we’re safe. At least as safe as one can be after being injected with a rushed vaccine that was released for emergency experimental use.

But some have refused the vaccine, preferring to believe the false and misleading information circulating out there with the virus. One of Linda’s students was one of those people. Linda shared this on her Facebook page:

I’ve had a wonderful student, old soul at 95; still singing, practicing, performing and blessing all with his light. He was singing beautifully at his lesson last Tuesday. He had told me a few weeks ago that people weren’t being told the whole truth about the vaccines. Yesterday, he passed away from COVID19. In one week it took him, because he believed the big mouthed know-it-all people that know nothing and spout their ignorance instead of believing science. It’s everyone’s choice what they do or don’t do, of course. Ralph’s choice cost him his life. I will miss him terribly. He truly was a gifted singer and a loving soul, with a faith stronger than the mountains. Good-bye for now, Ralph. They will love hearing you sing in the beyond!

She taught him every Tuesday. Tuesday of last week, he had his lesson. This past Tuesday, his son called to let Linda know that he was in hospice with COVID-19. He died on Wednesday.

Since I started documenting this journey of mine, I’ve left politics out of it. And while, strictly speaking, I’m not getting political now, either, a lot of people, unfortunately, consider this a political issue, rather than a matter of simple, common sense.

I’ve done my share of poking fun at the science-deniers, and making smartass remarks about their medieval suspicions. If you’ve followed me on Facebook for any length of time, you know I’m no fan of the Faux News Network and the misinformation that they regularly spread.

I have no patience for them, or for others like them who blanket the airwaves and print media with their paranoid delusions about the COVID vaccinations. But, of course, they’ve been allowed to do it for years, even before COVID. Anti-vaxxers have been spreading lies and misinformation about vaccinations for years, backed up by their opinions, but absolutely no scientific fact.

Climate-deniers have been doing it for years, too, denying the scientific facts and evidence presented by almost one hundred percent of the scientific community. They prefer, instead, to believe “scientists” with connections to oil companies, or others with a stake in the status quo. Or, they deny it simply because it’s easy. It doesn’t require any change from them. Change is difficult.

Some people have a hard time distinguishing their opinions from facts. As historian and sociologist James Loewen said, “People have a right to their own opinions, but not to their own facts. Evidence must be located, not created, and opinions not backed by evidence cannot be given much weight.” Unfortunately, too many people consider their opinions to be carved-in-stone-fact.

And it costs some of them their lives.

Well, I think that people and organizations who persist in spreading these lies, who influence others to take a certain action or inaction, should bear the responsibility of the results. Words matter, especially words about serious topics, and when those words are wrong, they can have tragic results.

Somebody died because they believed your spurious warnings about the COVID vaccine? You should be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

You encouraged angry people to “rise up” against the government, and some on both sides died? You should be sent up for terrorism and manslaughter, or even murder.

You resist sensible lifestyle changes so that you and your Neanderthal buddies can continue trashing the environment? You should have to answer for all the people who die every year as a direct result of environmental issues that could have been prevented by more stringent legislation that you voted down.

The title of this post is a line from the Alan Parsons songĀ Old and Wise. Linda’s student was just one of, at this writing, nearly three and a half million people that COVID has killed worldwide, and granted, he had reached a ripe old age. Unfortunately, due to the oppressive shadow of the lies that continue to be spewed every day, too many have not been allowed to become old and wise.

And more join them every day.