By Dr. Jim Ferguson

By the time you read this, it will be February. This year Groundhog Day will be on Friday February 2nd. Legend holds that if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, we’ll have six more weeks of winter. Hopefully, it’ll be cloudy over Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and spring will be just around the corner.

As I pen this essay it is a cold and bright day in Knoxville, with a cloudless azure sky. The deep blue reminds me of blue skies as seen from high elevation in the Rocky Mountains. We see blue sky because dust particles in the upper atmosphere scatter the shorter wavelengths of light preferentially, so blue is reflected back to our eyes. The forest outside my window is grey and brown. In winter there isn’t much green reflected toward my observing eyes.

Humans see only a limited range of the electromagnetic spectrum which extends from the infrared to the ultraviolet and beyond. I learned the color mnemonic, ROY G BIV, in junior high school. Red, orange, yellow green blue indigo and violet are the colors humans see. Bees “see” in the ultraviolet range. And with their compound eyes, the world must look very different.

This February, influenza rages everywhere we look. Some are even referring to this season’s outbreak as the “Australian flu” because it was first noticed Down Under that flu shots may not be as effective this year. Scientists study the constantly mutating influenza virus and formulate a vaccine each year to protect us from the influenza scourge in our neighborhood. Flu vaccines work by stimulating the immune system to make white blood cells which then quickly recognizes the influenza virus and mobilizes the body to resist disease.

Most influenza is designated as either A or B. Asian flu was type A, and the Hong Kong flu was a type B infection. The B variety of flu does not mutate as often as the type A. Both are identified by their surface receptor proteins called hemagglutinin and neuraminidase. These proteins enable the virus to attach and penetrate human cells and then spread to other cells.

Vaccines exist as either an inactivated virus or as a weakened live virus. Vaccines usually protect against two strains of influenza A and one B strain (trivalent). This year, a quadrivalent vaccine is available which protects against two strains of A and two strains of B influenza. The other day I read that experts are working on a universal influenza vaccine which would cover all of the varieties of  influenza infection. Unfortunately, I suspect the virus will discover a way to work around our science in the same way that bacteria develop resistance to indiscriminate use of antibiotics. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could inoculate Americans against the miasma of the Washington swamp?

The bilge that emanates from the media and the swamp of Washington fouls the television airways and saddens my heart. I actually think this miasma is physically and emotionally unhealthy. Others have voiced the same opinion. This hatred goes far beyond disagreement with a person or perspective. It is a visceral and destructive emotion, where logic and reason are suspended. The Trump hatred syndrome was evident on the faces of the Democrats during the President‘s State of the Union message.

My dislike of Obama’s policies are well known, but I do not hate Obama or wish  him ill. The visceral reaction to Trump by the so-called left is unhinged and pathological. Even Jimmy Carter has commented on the unprecedented assault on Trump by the media, Hollywood, the ruling class in the Swamp, the “deep state,” academia and the cesspools of social media. I also find it unhealthy that Obama has not left the White House and gone “quietly into that good night,” but has returned to his roots as a community organizer and leads the so-called “resistance” with his non-profit OFA, Organizing for America.

I was a science guy in my formal education. After passing internal medicine and then geriatric boards, I no longer have to study and pass tests. I’m now free to explore my interests and extend my horizons in, for instance, the humanities. With a smartphone and the internet I am free to pursue my fancies including Hegelian dialectics.

Hegel was a German philosopher and notable for this method of discourse or dialogue. It begins with a thesis (perspective). Then, its opposite or antithesis is added to the discussion. In the setting of reason and mutual respect, the interplay of ideas can proceed and eventually lead to a synthesis or merging of ideas. This conclusion then becomes a new thesis (perspective).

Unfortunately, in today’s America the critical element of reason and mutual respect no longer exist, so the euphemistic term “conversation” is used which is actually a disingenuous facade. Examples are the so-called “conversations” on TV segments between opposing talking heads which frequently degenerate into shouting matches. No one is converted in these staged gladiatorial contests. I just change channels. I read recently that a relationship with the messenger is more influential than his argument. How true this is.

Trump and his policies are the antithesis of Obama. I have seen these two presidents act respectfully with each other, while disagreeing on policy. I don’t perceive hatred in them, but perhaps these two generals just leave the bloody trench warfare of politics to their surrogates. I have friends who don’t ascribe to my conservative perspectives. Nonetheless, we remain friends and can have a dialectical discussion because there is mutual respect and we can consider the merits of the other’s argument offered with logic instead of emotional invective.

The word justice connotes fairness. But, what is the standard by which the comparison is made? Our country is a republic, a form of government predicated on the rule of law. The rules are codified in the Constitution. However fair or noble these rules or laws are, they are not supreme, just inventions of man. I don’t speed because it’s dangerous and I may get a ticket for breaking man’s law. However, I don’t steal or lie because it’s wrong and violates the Moral Law written on my heart and mind and soul by God.

Shining a light into the basement causes rats to scurry away. I pray that the light of spring is shining into the swamp of Washington and the rats will be exposed to justice and then, we can forgive them. That is the noble thesis of the Master.