I wonder if we are too protected from the horrors of this pestilence – this plague. Many of us treat it like a Saran-wrapped hamburger that we carelessly toss into a grocery cart. To devour the hamburger, we push aside the butchery: the bullet to the cow’s brain, the slit of the throat, the hanging up of the carcass. Let’s not talk about those uncomfortable images. Let’s just eat.

A registered nurse holds the hand of a COVID-19 patient in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center in Boise, Idaho. Kyle Green/Associated Press

At this moment, I have a family friend fighting COVID pneumonia in an Iowa hospital ICU. He is in his mid-60s. He is a farmer. A Boy Scout leader. A school board member. A husband and a father.

We can picture those familiar titles, can’t we? But what I don’t hear, what I can’t truly comprehend, is his labored breathing. What I truly don’t see are his purple lips, all signs of a body struggling to get enough oxygen.

Maybe hospital walls should be made of glass so we can see the butchery of COVID. Maybe we should all take a walk through the COVID slaughterhouses across America, because a nightmare is the only thing that is going to wake us up.

Let’s all get really close and inspect the dying. But not too close, because I wouldn’t want anyone’s lips, especially the lips of the unvaccinated, to turn blue – like the color of the sea in a storm.

Gregory Greenleaf

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