Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what ancient and obdurate oaks are uprooted in us in the act of sickness…

–Virginia Woolf

By Dr. Jim Ferguson

I think we appreciate rain more after its absence, and the same with almost everything else, including illness. Virginia Woolf’s haunting prose alludes to the appreciation of health by its absence, just as I revel in the return of health after my own illnesses.

I recently watched a TED talk about health and the attributes associated with long life. Interestingly, of the top attributes, treatment of hypertension, keeping your weight down, and exercise ranked 9th, 8th and 7th in the order of importance. Even getting a flu shot was more important at #5 on the Top 10 list. Quitting tobacco ranked 3rd on the list. But in this scientific study and analysis, the two most important predictors of long life were (#2) having close relationships such as family and friends and (#1) social integration, like attending church, being in a book club or talking with others in the grocery line.

It’s not surprising our country is no longer healthy.  We have been the victims of a fear campaign and have been locked away from each other, church and social interactions. Humans are social creatures and we wither without connection.

It is human nature to take things for granted. I love summer storms, and we got good ones last week, relieving the pains of heat and drought. Becky and I live in the UT hospital area and storms often seem to pass north of us or south towards the mountains. I have a hypothesis, which is little more than an idea rather than a theory supported by testing or some immutable law that has stood the test of time and study. My hypothesis is that storm systems moving west to east are often deflected by rising heat from the interstate highways and city blacktops. Consequently, storms are often diverted north or south of downtown. It is just a thought, but perhaps others have made similar observations. I know what I am. I am not a meteorologist, although I can define one, just as I can define a woman.

I love the colloquial language of the South. Last week we had a “gully washer.” How descriptive! My west coast son-in-law was amazed to experience a gully washer when visiting some years ago. Apparently, they don’t have violent rainstorms in the Pacific Northwest. Typically, they have light rain – almost like a mist – on a regular basis rather than Southern intermittent torrents of rain. Some years ago, on descending through the clouds over Ireland, I saw a beautiful kelly-green landscape. And as we drove around Ireland, misting rain occurred frequently, almost like grocery mists designed to keep produce from drying out. I came to understand why the Emerald Isle is so named.

As my readers know I’m interested in language. I trained in a big city hospital in the South and learned many new colloquialisms. I was introduced to a “bealed” ear, translated as a middle ear infection (otitis media). A “risen’ on the pajama” was a boil in a… very private area. “High blood” was hypertension, “low blood” was anemia and “bad blood” was sickle cell disease. And “shots on the green” was a historical vignette of public health doctors giving injections of antibiotics on rural village greens to treat syphilis.

Although there is much on the Internet that is wrong, dangerous and disgusting, there is also a lot that is quite good. I have been thinking about leadership after watching another TED talk entitled How to Start a Movement by Derek Sivers. You can easily find this on YouTube.

Years ago, I wrote about the attributes of leadership which include someone with bedrock principles, the ability to formulate policy and then gain consensus to achieve goals. The TED talk emphasizes the courage of leadership and the willingness to be criticized for your ideas. It then shows consensus building where first and then second followers are added and promoted as co-equals in the growing movement. And as the group grows it becomes less risky for others to join and soon, we have what Malcom Gladwell described as the “tipping point,” where everyone is all in. The human dynamics in this three-minute video are fascinating.

I now realize what we have lost and why we are sick. We replaced the ultimate leader (God) with government. Then we replaced a penultimate leader with the old man manipulated by evil people. The oft circulated meme of President Trump’s face and the caption “Miss me yet?” is so impactful.

I miss President Trump’s energy policy where America was energy independent, rather than begging dictators to pump more petroleum. Gasoline has more than doubled in price on the old man’s watch. I miss Trump’s border wall and immigration policy, and decry the southern invasion of our country. I miss Trump’s economy rather than the old man’s inflation, product scarcity and stock market decline. And I am horrified by the Democrats’ war on the police, with rising murder, robbery, drugs and human trafficking. No, I don’t miss Trump’s Tweets, but I have never been targeted for destruction as Trump and his family were. I might have challenged my accusers to mortal combat!

I now recognize what we have lost. But America has faced terrible challenges in the past and prevailed. And as the saying goes, “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.” We aren’t done yet. There is a way out of this mess.

I have voted for Democrats in the past, but those relics have long since gone. All that is left are progressives, socialists, wokesters and party apparatchiks. And I have held my nose and voted for RINOs, but no more. I will brook no compromise.

It is time for the modern “citizen soldier” to stand up and fight. Join me and throw the bums out of office, and Make America Great Again!