Me and the Evil Little Beasties

Writer Anne Lamott bluntly cautioned with, “One hundred years from now? All new people.” Why let irritations toward others dominate our lives? We should enjoy life more since we won’t be around all that long. I agree, except when the other is a mosquito, like the mean airborne critter Aedes aegypti.

To paraphrase Ms. Lamott: Two weeks from now? All new mosquitoes.

Yikes!

Fourteen days is the life span— egg, larva, pupa, adult, relentless blood-sucking, death—of the winged tormenters. Since I’m a cranky old guy, I recall the quaint mosquitoes of yesteryear. Aedes Way Back When would arrive in late spring. They scurried hither and yon for a few months. As summer faded, Aedes Way Back When vanished.

Not with Aedes aegypti. According to my non-research, the Latin Aedes aegypti translates to: evil little beasties. Nowadays, I dread my backyard. All day long, in whatever season, they wait to pounce. Aedes aegypti are pint-sized, rarely heard, and prefer cruising below the radar while hunting feet, ankles, calves, and the random soft inner thigh.

I hate Aedes aegypti. As someone who dislikes former President Trump, I’ve had many MAGA stalwarts berate me for “hating” him. No way! I’m a retired pastor. Though a grumpy Christian, I love my neighbor. I’ve never hated anyone. But Aedes aegypti? Maybe I could even bring myself to hate Noah and his storm-tossed ark. Why’d he give Aedes aegypti a ticket to ride?

I made an appointment with mosquito abatement professionals. How could I reduce the incessant insect invaders? A pleasant expert arrived, brochures in hand, his face mask drifting below his nose. He wandered my yard, finding two flower pot plates with standing water.

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Shadow of the Flag

We all pledge allegiance to the same red-white-and-blue flag, a symbol of our unity . . .

They seemed to emerge from the shadows. Such as . . .

  • The person who abruptly asked me about my stance on abortion.
  • The fellow that, after claiming all so-called mainstream media lied, refused to share what news sources informed his views.
  • The woman who posted an inflammatory meme about Black Lives Matter—with blatantly fabricated “facts”—that never answered my courteous reply.

In the strange, seductive landscape of social media, I encountered those three people. They are examples of the digital friends and strangers that engaged in (and disengaged from) online conversations about our most divisive subjects: racism, policing, media, and politics.

For me, their responses represent the shadow side of the American experience. We all pledge allegiance to the same red-white-and-blue flag, a symbol of our unity, as it waves over schools, government buildings, homes, sporting events, and more. And yet, a shadow is there, the murky world of our clashing views that split and splinter our country. Citizens express hatred for other citizens with remarkable ease. We thump each other with conflicting, selective facts. We mingle with the “tribes” we claim, comfortably bantering with like-minded folks while berating the “them” that is different from “us.”

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The LIE

I suspect any concession announcement from President Trump’s will mirror one of his most influential—and malicious—political LIES. However, I won’t be surprised if our current president never utters anything acknowledging his defeat or congratulating President-elect Biden.

Citizen Trump was arguably the highest profile “celebrity” to publicly doubt former President Barack Obama’s place of birth. Mr. Trump was a birther. Though there were earlier clues about Trump questioning Obama’s citizenship, his 2011 appearance on Good Morning America represents his flagrant LIE meeting his biggest audience.

Tweets inevitably followed.

When the then New York real estate mogul and former reality TV star came down the Trump Tower elevator to declare his presidential bid in 2015, the LIE was one of his favorite calling cards. Speak or tweet the LIE and reactions followed. Many jeered . . . how wrong and misguided that LIE was. But many, in particular those who were forming his political base, cheered.

Citizen Obama had job interviews, applications to colleges, and campaigned successfully and unsuccessfully for political office. His background was known. Individuals and institutions had endlessly vetted him over the years. Had his citizenship been a question, it would have been questioned early and often. However, there was nothing to question.

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