There is no way to eliminate risk, but anything one does to reduce it is better than nothing
by, Zeynep Tufekci, sociologist and writer
Millions of Americans are traveling for Thanksgiving. In doing so, they’re increasing the chances of catching or spreading Covid-19—not just themselves but to others. A wedding reception in Maine ended up causing 177 cases and seven deaths—but none of the deaths were among people who attended the wedding, but rather, among their contacts.
It’s never too late to decide not to travel or choose not to meet with large groups of people not in one’s household during the holidays. There is excellent news regarding vaccines and therapeutics, and we may be very close to turning the corner on this pandemic. One can always have Thanksgiving in spring and be grateful for having survived a pandemic! As I recently wrote in The Atlantic, it’s time to hunker down!
I’d especially urge people to consider that hospitals are running out of not just space, but of qualified people. This report is a sobering read from a hospital that was otherwise very-well prepared. We can expand space within facilities and even set up field hospitals. But there is no way to mass manufacture doctors and nurses. With a nationwide surge underway, workers from one region cannot travel to bail out another, as they were able to in spring. Keeping infections down means that hospitals can do a better job taking care of the already overwhelming numbers of people who need care.
Traditionally, communal eating is the center of Thanksgiving festivities. However, it is also one of the highest risk activities, as one cannot be masked while eating, and people tend to speak loudly around a table. Eating together doesn’t have to be the centerpiece of the day, though. It’s possible to eat separately and make the highlight of the day a different group activity. A gathering outside around a fire pit would be great, for example. It’s fun and, being outdoors, it’s safer, too. Playing a board game where people keep their masks on is another alternative. Keeping masks on is especially important for multi-generational gatherings, or for groups that include higher-risk people. The minimal set-up could be that the elderly could eat separately from the rest of the group. If they must join the dining table, they can do so while wearing the highest-grade mask they have. Risk reduction is important for everyone, but it’s most important for those at most risk. It’s much better to have a much more festive gathering in spring or summer, even if it makes this Thanksgiving a little more awkward.
Getting tested before or after a group meeting is tricky. On the one hand, of course testing is a good precaution to take, and a positive test result means you absolutely should isolate! However, one can test negative even while having Covid-19, because the disease hasn’t progressed enough—and then be infected and infectious just a day or two later. I wouldn’t consider a negative test a licence to do anything differently. In other words, even if you test negative, take all the precautions that you can: stay home and don’t travel for Thanksgiving, or, if you decide to do so, quarantine and take all the harm-reduction steps you can anyway.
The same precautions apply for the return trip: travel in the least risky way possible, keeping in mind that contact with other people poses the highest risks. When you return, quarantine. The gold-standard period for quarantine is two weeks, but don’t think in binary terms. Don’t think that if you can’t do two weeks, you may as well not quarantine. Two weeks is better than a week, a week is better than nothing. When you return, it’s best to act like you might be infected.
What if you get lucky by exposing yourself to a high-risk situation and emerging untouched by Covid-19? Don’t assume that your luck will hold for the Christmas season. Every encounter is an independent risk. There is no such thing as “a winning streak” with this disease. Getting lucky once is no guarantee of being lucky a second time.The changing winter conditions and the explosion in infections means that any meeting right now is much higher risk than before, when the weather was warmer and case numbers were lower. We now have three vaccine candidates with excellent results and vaccinations will start as early as December. We have effective therapeutics—they are in short supply but manufacturing is ramping up. We will have better weather once we get through this winter season. We are so close to the finish line. The more precautions we take, the better our chances.
Dr. Tufekci was getting it right back in January before many epidemiologists.
How Zeynep Tufekci Keeps Getting the Big Things Right
‘Dr. Tufekci, a computer programmer who became a sociologist, sounded an early alarm on the need for protective masks. It wasn’t the first time she was right about something big.’
by Ben Smith
Credit…Felix Hörhager/Picture Alliance]
With author David Brooks & publisher Robert Ellsberg.
“In anticipation of our upcoming commemoration of the the 40th anniversary of Day’s death on November 29th 2020, we remember the eulogy given by Father Geoffrey B. Gneuhs, O.P. at the funeral of Dorothy Day, Nativity Church, New York City, December 2, 1980:”
In her book The Long Loneliness, Dorothy wrote, “All my life I have been haunted by God.” And where did this haunting God lead her? To a life of simplicity and poverty with the poor, to solidarity with the outcasts—today in this city of New York there are more and more people homeless as mental hospitals close and social services are cut back, while at the same time this country spends $170 billion a year for armaments.
This haunting God led Dorothy to jail because
she spoke and acted for the rights of women and men, of laborers and workers; she was led to jail because she stood with the farm workers, and to prison because she would not tolerate the militarist posture of this country. She was led ultimately to community, to love.
This being haunted by God became for her a stupendous and extraordinary pilgrimage, a pilgrimage of faith. For sure, the Sermon on the Mount sums up the entire life and spirit of Jesus, and it is an invitation which Dorothy with consummate conviction accepted. She realized that love is an exchange of gifts: the gift of faith, and she in turn offered the gift of her life lived in faith, given for us and thousands of others. The Sermon on the Mount, along with the 25th chapter of St. Matthew, the cornerstone of the Catholic Worker movement, is not some general guide or optional outline. It is the very expression of the flesh and blood of Jesus—the Incarnation of Truth.
In our country, those who have so much, too much, are apt to declare “Well, the poor you’ll always have with you”—not realizing or hearing Jesus speak the Truth in the Sermon, not hearing the Truth call out. That is precisely the point. Christ the poor one is always with us!
Dorothy, with dear Peter Maurin, of whom she wrote, “He was my master and I was his disciple, he gave me a way of life,” realized this Truth so well. She said, “What a simplification of life it would be if we saw Christ everywhere we go.” Did you give me clothes? Did you give me food? Did you give me shelter in the empty room in your home, of your rectory or priory?
To love, for her, was not a duty but a privilege. And should it not be for all of us? It begs the question: Do we want to meet Christ? Do we really believe? We do not have to go far to see Christ, to invite Christ, and to be invited by Christ. The invitation is offered for loaves and fishes, more often at our houses, soup and bread and tea. To those of us who doubt, to us Christians who waver, Dorothy showed by her love that, yes, the Gospel is possible. The Gospel is so possible it is now and cannot wait for the future. The moment is ours. Dorothy seized the moment given her. The Truth called her forth and she accepted the invitation—solidarity with those without the arrogance and dominance of wealth, power, and prestige. She lived the Truth with all its starkness and abruptness, with all its freedom and its love.
She wrote, “We cannot love God unless we love each other and to love we must know each other—and we will know Him in the breaking of the bread—and then we are not alone anymore. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet too, even with a crust, where there is companionship.” Love is not meant to be a half measure, nor is it meant to be easy. Dorothy on her pilgrimage knew that violence and war are not the way of Christ, that love is the only measure. Thus Truth again called her forth and she accepted the invitation to speak out against war and the crucifixion of humanity by nuclear armaments.
Wouldn’t it be a tragedy for us to equivocate or to dilute the spirit of her life?
She was utterly convinced of the rightness of pacifism and of nonviolent resistance to statism. And never, even at age 83, did she waver in the clarity of her vision of Truth and in her conviction.
Today the romance of war and power and individualism ignores the capacity of the human imagination imaged in God to see and to live the Gospel of gentle personalism and unconditional love. And Dorothy loved life, believed in life, enjoyed life. It was the very life of a child that welled up in her the invitation to the pilgrimage. In St. John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “I have come to bring life, to bring life more abundantly.”
Remember when Jesus was on trial for his actions of Truth? He said to Pilate, “Mine is not a kingdom of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my men would have fought…. I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.”
And what was Pilate’s reply? “Truth,” he said, “what is truth?” In a truthless world, some have struggled to listen to His voice and to continue to speak Truth—the Truth of Christ. And one was Dorothy: in her commitment to justice, to freedom and to peace, her resistance to the kingdoms of this world, and her unflinching commitment to the belief that love will redeem the world, Dorothy had a dream of this Truth, the dream became a vision, and the vision became a light for the world. The Truth guided her pilgrimage and she admitted, “We confess to being fools and wish that we were more so.” Oh, thank God for such foolishness!
And so Dorothy, the pilgrimage is over. You’re home now. The Truth invites you to the eternal banquet.
Dorothy Day’s granddaughter sentenced to prison for nuclear base break-in
Martha Hennessy, a granddaughter of Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement, was sentenced Friday (Nov. 13) to 10 months in prison for breaking into Kings Bay Naval Base in Georgia two years ago to protest its stockpile of nuclear weapons.
Hennessy’s was the lightest sentence given for the break-in at the Navy base 40 miles south of Brunswick, Georgia, on April 4, 2018, in which Hennessy, 65, was joined by six other Catholic pacifists. Together they are known as the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, named after the Plowshares anti-war movement founded 40 years ago by Daniel and Philip Berrigan and six others.
On Thursday, Carmen Trotta, of St. Joseph Catholic Worker in New York City, was sentenced to 14 months in prison, while Clare Grady of the Ithaca Catholic Worker was sentenced to 12 months. Both have spent their lives at Catholic Worker houses in New York state, which house and feed the needy. All were also sentenced to probation and will be required to repay the Navy base a total of $33,500 in damages.
Hennessy is the only one of Dorothy Day’s nine grandchildren to dedicate herself to what Catholics call “works of mercy.”
Hennessy — in a statement right before her sentencing — said she regarded the action as a religious exercise, likening it to Jesus’ action of overturning the money-changing tables at the entrance to the Jerusalem Temple, as described in the New Testament gospels.
“I had no criminal intent,” she said. “I wanted to prevent a nuclear holocaust.”
Biden should start his inaugural speech by saying, “Well, that was weird.”
-Frank Lesser, Former Emmy-winning writer for The Colbert Report
Fr Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation:
Order becomes opportunity, stability melts into movement and change, status-quo government gives way to a revolution of community and neighborliness, policy bows to love, domination descends to service and sacrifice, control morphs into influence and inspiration, and vengeance and threats are transformed into forgiveness and blessing.
Contemplation: a long loving look at the real.
Smart, generous and kind.
The Ngram tracks words used in books over the last 200 years. Here’s what a million authors and a billion readers think:
‘We may not each be called to the same work in the same ways, but we share the responsibility to repair the conscience of our nation, to stand up and stand in the gap for those who have lost hope, lost their way, lost their voice.’
Science of Mind Magazine named Stevenson their Spiritual Hero of the Year for 2020.
In an adapted excerpt from Rohr’s A Spring Within Us, Father Richard Rohr says that mystic “simply means one who has moved from mere belief systems or belonging systems to actual inner experience. All spiritual traditions at their mature levels agree that such a movement is possible, desirable, and even available to everyone.”
“A mystic is an ordinary person who does ordinary things and experiences these moments of profound union with The Source, Mirabai Starr says.
Another sign you may be a natural mystic? An extreme affinity for nature.
Mirabai Starr: “That’s why there’s the term “Mother Earth.” For a lot of people with mystical inclinations, it’s a felt relationship with the earth, as a cherished loved one, as a relative. It’s about fully embodying our humanity and our relationship with the natural world, but that’s still a mystical experience, because we, our separate ego self dissolves into that vast mystery of The One.”