We are not supposed to hate.

As a child, I was taught never to hate someone, as it thus revealed my lack of compassion and understanding for those who might need a  helping hand. 

I was taught hating someone would only turn my own soul dark, as I chose to wallow in the darkness of an emotion that robs all reason. 

I was told that hate would never get me anywhere. It would reveal a gaping hole in my own soul, a festering cancer that could devour me whole. 

Knowing all this to be wise, I now struggle with a personal decision. I accept this fault as one of my own making, and also accept the consequences. 

There will forevermore reside within me a lasting disdain for those who have chosen a specific path, taken hold of an ideal, and follow those who walk a path of misery inflicted upon others. 

The people who see COVID-19 as no big deal, a “hoax”, nothing more than a bad cold.

Those who still insist on making ignorant comparisons with other ailments. Ones who bellow about their “Constitutional rights” in refusing to wear a simple mask, go without their favorite restaurant for a few months, demand life return to usual as quickly as possible despite the mounting toll of the deathly ill and bodies being shipped out of hospitals, elderly care facilities and living rooms across America. Political cretins who seem Hell-bent on turning a population into a mortuary. 

There can be nothing but contempt for these individuals, especially for those who lead their packs. The politicians, the cable talk show mules, the social media trolls and their ilk. They are all, now and forever more, the true deplorables of an America that used to, at the very least, seek to present itself as compassionate toward fellow men and women. 

It is the death of one man, one wonderful soul, that has set me on a course I do not believe I will ever be able, nor willing, to deviate from. 

Ken Lee is an old and trusted friend. We met and spent our days (and nights) bonding over University of Miami (FL) baseball. I was a radio, then television sports reporter, and for a time enjoyed the culmination of a childhood dream calling those games on local radio. They were some of the best days of my life, thanks in large part to people such as Ken. He was part of the UM Sports Information Department, working baseball and football. The man truly lived to enjoy life, and he was a heart and soul of that program. We shared so many laughs in those press boxes over the years, so many memories that to this day produce smiles and a lot of laughs. 

As with so many things in life, the years had us in different directions. We had not talked in a long time. Then, his mother passed away earlier this year. I did not hesitate, picking up the phone and dialing his number. The Ken Lee I always knew was right there on the other end, a man of profound positivity. In this instance, it was true courage, revealing a man of steadfast character. We talked for almost an hour, and when I clicked out, there was a wonderful feeling of reconnection with not only a friend, but a part of my life that had started to gather dust. 

Today came news that Ken had lost his father. As we were not in constant communication, I had no idea Richard was ill. While the passing of ones we know comes with sadness, this departure of a wonderful man I had met and spoken with many times in years past came with the brutal reality of our times. 

Richard Lee died of complications from COVID-19. His passing added yet another number to the souls of fathers, mothers, grandparents, sons and daughters that have fallen from this insidious virus. 

Ken, and I do love him for this, has managed to live his adult life without social media. Hard to believe, isn’t it? So his wife, Rhona, took to her Facebook account and shared with everyone the farewell written by Ken. 

Damn. 

I cried when I heard the news of his father’s passing. Then, I read Ken’s words. 

No more tears. 

I grieve with my friend, his wife, and his entire family. I share the grief of a wide range of friends and colleagues who will gather by his side, in person and in spirit. 

I will remember his words, seared into my soul.

“He was my father and he’s never coming back”.

Like so many others, I live with the numbing fear that I will lose my elderly parents to COVID-19. I keep daily tabs on them, talk to them, experience the rise and fall of emotions every time I hear that the community they live in has another individual test positive. I toss and turn with nightmares driven by not just the pandemic, but by those who so casually and easily dismiss the suffering and death all around us. 

No longer will I excuse their indifference. No more can I grant them clemency for their rhetoric, propaganda, disinformation, misinformation, lack of action or cultish belief in mantras such as “it will one day just disappear” or “watch, it will all be gone by Election Day”.

There is no greater depth of contempt I hold these people in, and it won’t just fade away. 

I am not exceptionally proud to note my distaste, but I certainly won’t apologize for it. 

Once, I had the ability to excuse such ignorance and mental incapacity to understand we are, like it or not, without question, in this all together. Those who fail to grasp that are assisting in the agony and death that surrounds us. 

Once, I had the power to forgive.

No more.  

That, like the lives of good people who have been taken from us too soon, assisted by the addled-minded decisions of these people, is also, never coming back. 

Hold your loved one tight. Tell them you love them.

One day, it is they who will just disappear. Leaving us to decide how we will handle the actions and reactions of those around us. 

For me, there is no choice.

Now, you decide.