Milan Vodicka: Proverbs in the coronavirus period | TheUnion.com
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Milan Vodicka: Proverbs in the coronavirus period

Other Voices
Milan Vodicka

Over a month in the virus zone, writing … about what? I hear, “write something positive!” Clearly, this is a long overdue task, considering news headlines, such as “Terrifying! COVID-19 virus!” The bleak “news” are coming our way, every day.

Therefore, I express my — I trust everyone’s — public acknowledgement and gratitude to the ones who deserve it. The ones embodying the positive within our lives and for our lives; on behalf of all of us who are privileged to our relative well-being because of their services. We know — some of those people know us, some only by sight, some only by name, and some not at all. Yet, all of them are special, at his time and to all. Who are they? Where are they?

First proverb: “Good health is above wealth.” Thanks to everyone, directly or indirectly working in or being associated with the medical professions and services. I already passed a brush with death at least twice. I am here because of those people, then and now. One pronouncement sums this up: “You should value your heart surgeon. He is the only human being that held your heart in his hands.”

In our own Nevada County, among others, we have personnel at the Sierra Nevada Hospital, the Dignity Health organization, Quest Diagnostics, nursing homes, many rehabilitation specialist, and — of course — pharmacies. Health care professionals deserve to be valued by everyone. One time or another, everyone’s health, perhaps life, will depend on them.

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OK, “spoiler alert.” Having mentioned “wealth” — this “wealth” unfortunately appears to be a priority over “health” for some in our nation. “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!” (Shakespeare quote) shows what circumstances do to wealth. My grandma used to say, “I shall not take any money with me to my grave.” Of course! Now, have a good look and listen to “protesters” against health protecting measures. What does it tell you about the “protesters’” values? About their “freedom?”

Second proverb: “Salt is above gold.” Last month, I listed three essential necessities of life — food, shelter, and medicine. Hence recognition and praise to all associated with our food industry. Grocery stores employees, truck and delivery drivers (at UPS and other companies), the producers of food!

Third proverb: “Every man has his value.” Well, women, too. Very true. United States Postal Service workers. All those who — my wife and her sisters included — sew face masks day and night. People who keep the telephone and the internet going. Who work for PG&E, police and firemen. The ones who work for the government. Family and friends who help each other. And those who are unable to work, such as personnel of our local restaurants and eating establishments.

Fourth proverb: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” There is a conflict, stemming from “one man’s freedom is another man’s prison.” One says “health,” the other says “wealth.” In the current situation, those are mutually exclusive (to a great degree) alternatives. Yet, it was all here, perhaps in different forms or shape, before.

Just one example — smoking. During one past conversation with a friend I was stunned by her assertion, “I would never take from smokers the freedom to smoke wherever they want.” That included public places. My response was, “… your freedom not to die from lung cancer means nothing?” I know, this example is loaded; it is not certain she would die from lung cancer. What is certain, that the probability of her dying from lung cancer, due to the smokers action, would go up.

Now, project the above example to desires to “be healthy” and “open up the economy.” Same thing, right? It is impossible to have both; something has to give. It is a play of probabilities — one goes up, the other goes down.

I invoked proverbs in this “virus zone” writing and context. Why? I value them, as “stating a general truth and a piece of advice.” Among many proverbs applicable to the COVID-19 situation, this one strikes me as especially poignant: “A person who does not follow advice, cannot be helped.”

Speaking of help: “As you sow, so you shall reap.” Or not — there is no “sowing” or “reaping” for the dead … Some people should be mindful of that.

At the conclusion, a final proverb: “There never was anything bad without something good in it.” And so it goes. Life still goes on, for us, the “lucky ones,” who are still living. This is, unquestionably, the “positive.”

Milan Vodicka has been a Nevada County resident since 1978.


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