Opinion

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Uncommon Ground

Credible Information

Education and information seem critical to assure that locals can continue to safely live their lives without the chaos of fear

A friend who lived on the farm 30 years ago visited from Bend, Oregon last week. He’s now a physician’s assistant and works in the medical field helping sick people heal.

A colleague returned from Japan earlier that week to help steer a conservation discussion that is currently happening in Whitefish. A friend from from Seattle, Washington is coming to the Flathead soon to spend time with her brother.

My nephew, who left our farm a decade ago to become a firefighter paramedic, indicated that his emergency service department in rural New Hampshire had been told what additional medical provisions it should try to secure and prepare.

Last week the governor and local health department in the Flathead announced a coordinated emergency preparedness strategy. Somehow the global coronavirus outbreak with no known vaccine that plagues our planet must feel to many like the fourth horseman.

Months earlier, I lightheartedly tagged my mother-in-law, who lives on the farm, with the same phrase. Turns out she’s just a sweet old lady with a sharp East Coast tongue and bad luck at the game of Parcheesi.

But seriously, it used to be such a nice planet. Or was it? The emergence of social media and abundance of news outlets sure allows me to see so much more information digitally.

Today’s planet has the fiercest forest fires, the strongest hurricane, the weirdest tornadoes, and the hottest sunshine that any living human has seen. The weather is brutally chaotic and the blowhard politicians are louder and meaner than ever.

The viruses or locusts afflicting our planet’s inhabitants look out of control. They’re purportedly vexing everything, wiping out herds of livestock and confining people by the millions.

I’m not ready for a thousand years of warring empires and spiritual death that a pale horse prophesizes. Never mind ready, I’m uncomfortable with the idea. It seems like holy hell and for no good reason.

The world is looking for a vaccine and the U.S. Congress coughed up billions to help the effort. But if you want to stop a coronavirus you’ve got to protect your local health care workers first. Give local health care the resources it needs today.

The Flathead enjoys a lot of tourism. Millions of people from around the globe annually travel here spending money and enjoying our way of life in the great outdoors. Who knows what happens this year in the Flathead – the Yellowstone Park area reportedly expects a notable slowdown.

I’d expect much more information released locally about this planet-wide coronavirus. Education and information seem critical to assure that locals can continue to safely live their lives without the chaos of fear.

Given that schools in places like Japan closed for a month to help contain the virus, it’s reasonable that parents have good access to clear information.

I think we got this. I hope we do. I’m betting on us. We’ve collectively learned some lessons over the last 100 years when the last major killer virus ravaged our nation.

The gropple blowing outside my window stopped. The wind that howled all morning yielded to sunshine and is enticing me outdoors to prune pear trees. If the warm wind persists, I’ll resort to other labor, or shorter trees involving less ladder work. It feels like springtime outdoors.

The March snow is vanishing quickly in Whitefish. The blistering cold may return like last April, but it’s been a bit jarring to see little-to-no snow in Kalispell. The farmers down south seem far ahead of our planting ability up here.

I’ll do my small part on and off the farm to keep our valley a great place. I trust you’ll do likewise. Locally we take care of others. Today, like always, credible information from leaders is key.