Comment Of The Day: “Distracted Ethics Warm-Up, 11/24/2020: “’A Website, Two Governors And An Actress Walk Into A Bar…’”

I hereby vow to straighten out the Comment of the Day backlog over the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend, especially since the sinister alliance of the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck, The Great Stupid, the Wuhan Virus Ethics Train Wreck and the Axis of Unethical Conduct has kicked Thanksgiving in its metaphorical groin, perhaps crippling it forever. THanksgiving has benn on the Left’s hit list for a long time. You know: religion, Native American genocide, white supremacy, evil Pilgrims. “First they came for Columbus…”

But I digress. Sorry.

I’m hopping Humble Talent’s past other earlier and deserving COTD candidates because, first, it’s a thoughtful and moving piece, but also because it is not about politics—a rare commodity of late—and because it is a pure ethics reflection, at a time of year, especially this year, when such shared reflections are much needed.

Here is Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Distracted Ethics Warm-Up, 11/24/2020: “’A Website, Two Governors And An Actress Walk Into A Bar…’”

I’m going to take a slight step back from politics, because what I’d like to talk about shouldn’t be political, but probably is, because it’s 2020 and everything is political. Apologies, this has absolutely nothing to do with the topics at hand, but the last Open Forum was long enough ago that I’m not sure if anyone would read this if I posted it there.

I’d like to talk about that fickle bitch, time, and the concept of risk appetites.

It’s been four years since the death of my father, I’ve related the details of his battle against that other fickle bitch, cancer, before and I won’t rehash the details again for the group, but I’d like to talk about what happened to me during and after the last week of his life.

My father was 62, I was 31, and I was the CFO for a corporation that does about $750 million in sales per year. I worked ten hours a day, six days a week, and had a cell phone in my pocket I called “The Bat Phone” (Only For Use in Emergencies Only or I Fire You). While my father was dying I was able to spend his last week basically beside him, running triage for the family members that wanted to see him. I’ll never forget his sister, who read him the entire Canadian Tire flier while he was comatose.

Regardless, I realized that I hadn’t seen many of my extended family members in years. I hadn’t seen one of my aunts in almost 15 years. Time, you see, is deceptive. My father died young, but how many years do we actually get to walk around, and how many of those years are “good years”? My mother is now 60, I have, what? 30 years on the outside to see her? 20 good years? Well, that sounds like a lot of time, doesn’t it? But if you only see your mother at Christmas, you don’t have 20 years… you have 20 visits. You have maybe 40 days to spend on your mother. My aunts and uncles on my dads side are older than he was. and I don’t even see them every Christmas, I have what? five, ten, visits with them left in the tank? One? None? There are people you know, maybe even like, that are alive, but you will never see again anyway. It’s a daunting thought. I’ve had maybe three life altering epiphanies in my life, and that was one of them.

The hell do you do with that? I suppose it depends on how much you like your family. I mean that. If the idea that you only have five visits with your aunt doesn’t bother you, that’s fine. Have those five visits. Maybe the scarcity of those visits makes them special, go over the top, treat yourselves. But what if you want more? Well…. you do something about it. In my case, I resigned, oriented my replacement, moved two provinces over to a small city a 45 minute drive from most of my family, where I manage a much smaller, but *much* less stressful office. I get that that’s a pretty privileged thing to be able to do, so your mileage may vary, but if you don’t do something, nothing happens.

Why is this topical? Because we’re being told not to attend Thanksgiving or Christmas gatherings, or in the case of people intelligent enough to understand that people are going to ignore that advice, but not self-aware enough to understand how utterly ridiculous what they’re saying, to wear masks even outside, to not play music so people don’t have to raise their voices, not to hug, or blink too loud. One of my Twitter friends said today: “I love my parents enough not to see them this year, because I want to see them for the next 10”.

That’s fair. I mean it. People who have compromised immune systems, or other underlying conditions, could very well get sick and die from Covid. And you could bring it to them. I can’t imagine what that would feel like.

In risk assessment, we use a matrix, on one axis of the matrix we measure likelihood of something happening, and on the other, we measure severity. If something is unlikely to happen, and not severe if it does happen, it’s usually ignored. If something is unlikely, but catastrophic if it occurs, we insure against it, if something is likely to happen, but isn’t materially impactful, we plan for it, and if something is likely to happen and catastrophic, we actively mitigate it.

Your parents are going to die. My father would not have lived a day longer if he also had Covid. Three days after you leave your parents to eat dinner alone, perhaps after an awkward phone conversation, they could have a coronary, get in an automobile accident, or fall down a flight of stairs. In fact, three times as many people die from those three things in a year than died of Covid in 2020.

That’s the risk. You don’t have ten or twenty years, you probably have ten or twenty visits. Maybe even less than that. Maybe one. The number of people dying in nursing homes crying into iPad screens because they can’t hug their loved ones one last time is callous and cruel to the extent that it borders genuine evil. And in this time of petty tyrants, no one, No One, is better able to make those risk assessments than you. You know your family, you know your health, you know your risk appetite.

Do what is best for you and the people you love, no matter what that is.

9 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Distracted Ethics Warm-Up, 11/24/2020: “’A Website, Two Governors And An Actress Walk Into A Bar…’”

  1. Bravo! Right on point! I am some 30 years your senior, but I didn’t have a similar epiphany until the death of my father in 2008. My mother (now an active 85) insists in living alone in the home she and my dad built in 1973, and as the eldest child I feel a special responsibility toward her. My wife and I put our house in the city on the market (we sold it after six months but took a beating) and built a new, smaller home on our country property. I now live about 500 yards from my mom’s house and see her and/or talk to her on the phone daily. After we moved out here, we began hosting annual get-togethers for my cousins, aunts and uncles. (My wife’s family has a similar long-established event every July.) This is the same rural community I grew up in, and I have found that it was easy to re-grow my roots here. You can never get back the time that you didn’t spend with family, but you can commit to not squander whatever opportunities remain. Again, bravo!

  2. This is solid. This is something I try to remind people any time talk of visiting family may get interrupted.

    Once you graduate high school, something like 90-95% of the time you will ever spend with your parents has already been spent with them. And of those 18 years that comprise the overwhelming bulk of time you’ll ever spend with your parents, you don’t remember the first handful and you were possibly an angry irritable teen for the last handful at worst or, at best, a teen who was grossly unaware of the preciousness of time.

  3. Well said, HT, and important to take into account with the threat of COVID and the appeal of holiday gatherings. We used a similar approach to risk analysis in the Army, and the bottom line is that once you have the assessment, risk appetite and the time factor come heavily into play. Thank you for this look at it.

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