We’re all experiencing COVID stagnation in one form or another. Most people are coping; others are not. But it’s not only stagnation. Rather, we’ve been thrust into chaos; a little tranquility might be welcome.

The pandemic is a crisis, not only with regard to public health, but also because it has upended our routines, our way of life, the freedom to do what we want, when we want and with whom we choose. The restrictions we must accept if we are to beat the pandemic feel like an assault on what it means to be an American. And it feels like an assault because it is.

However, being a patriotic citizen has to mean more than retreating into a snit for having to wear a mask or socially distance, or to forgo travel, a beer at a bar, a meal at a restaurant or a football game. The term “community” has profound meaning these days. The cliche “we’re all in this together” is redolent of truth. A pandemic of such severity requires massive public commitment and selfless personal responsibility. A COVID solution can happen only when both factors are in harmony -- and when both factors are defined and informed by data and science that are generated by the nation’s best minds: epidemiologists, medical researchers, front-line physicians, vaccine developers and apolitical analysts.

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Not by a failed national leader who doesn’t know his patella from his perineum (look it up) when it comes to science. Not from an idiotic cabal of “commentators” whose weasel words and thin gruel appear too often on The Forum’s opinion pages. Not by screeders who bash expertise when facts do not fit a political narrative. They are the 21st century’s inheritors of popes who persecuted Galileo for proving Earth was not the center of the universe, and the Bible thumpers who prosecuted John Scopes for teaching the scientific theory of evolution. They wear figurative tinfoil hats in the lunatic hope they will detect transmissions from the “deep state,” doffing the tin only while attending Flat Earth Society meetings where, it is said by those in the know, they favor “make America great again” headwear.

Find time to blot out the noise. It’s smart to occasionally step away. Ideas:

  • Read a book. I recommend Doug Stanton’s “In Harm’s Way” (MJF Books 2001), the story of the sinking of the battle cruiser USS Indianapolis in 1945, and the horrors the crew experienced while drifting for days in the shark-infested Pacific. Not for the faint of heart.
  • Watch a classic film. Henry Fonda’s performance is pitch-perfect in 1954’s “Twelve Angry Men.” Set almost entirely in a steamy jury room, the film is dated, but its themes still resonate. It’s a treat to see actors Lee J. Cobb and a young Jack Klugman doing some of their finest work.
  • Enjoy a public park. Each Friday, I join old-school media types at Fargo’s Island Park for lunch and talk. We’re unable to meet at our usual restaurant, so the park has become a nice option. My wife and I do the same thing with several friends at Lindenwood Park. Good people, good conversation in a beautiful setting.

Even with healthy diversions, pandemic stress is a minefield. I listened to the liar-in-chief and I muttered, “Gee, maybe this guy ain’t so bad.” How nuts is that? I stumbled into “Point of View” on a local TV station, and popped out of a stress trance when I heard the host spout partisan boilerplate while tossing softball questions at sycophants and hypocrites. A steady diet of that stuff will turn your brain to mush. Be warned.