My Thoughts

These days I am reminded of a phrase now more than four centuries old, first mentioned in the classic tale The Ingenious Knight of La Mancha or more familiarly Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1605, 1615). The phrase that comes to mind is “tilting at windmills” which surely must be an aphorism inexplicably baffling for minds critically indoctrinated by the modern public school system. Tilting, for students of more than a few decades past, is another word for jousting, which of course, to the fundamentally illiterate mind, is as odd a word as the former, just as chivalry, morality, honor, and fighting for noble causes are no longer sanctioned virtues by the hive mind. After all, though there were weapons mentioned in the tale, no mention was made of AR-15s, high-capacity magazines, or automatic weapons. All that aside, to ‘tilt at windmills’ is to attack imaginary enemies. It is that simple, and yet, too complex a concept for anyone who fathoms 2 + 2 = 4 as racist, phobic (there are too many phobias to list), whatever sinks your canoe, unplugs your peloton, or  burns your tommy johns.

Cervantes’ novel recounts the exploits of Don Quixote and his loyal servant, Sancho Panza. This, in and of itself, is prima facie racist—as is everything these days—and certainly deserving of serious reparations on the part of the descendants of Quixote’s loyal servant (notwithstanding it is a novel and the characters do not represent any actual person, either real or imagined, living or dead,) which, as we are constantly remonstrated, servant is just a dog whistle for slave. Don Quixote believes he is a knight in shining armor; he is, in truth, quite mad … but, a good and noble madness, nonetheless. He sets out on a quest to fight injustice through chivalry (look it up if you do not understand the word, it is in rare evidence these days). The eponymous hero imagines himself to be fighting giants when he attacks windmills.

Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, “Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless.”

“What giants?” asked Sancho Panza.

“Those you see over there,” replied his master, “with their long arms. Some of them have arms well nigh two leagues in length.”

“Take care, sir,” cried Sancho. “Those over there are not giants but windmills. Those things that seem to be their arms are sails which, when they are whirled around by the wind, turn the millstone.”

For the past fifteen months it seems, or so we have been told a thousand lies so it must be true, we have been tilting at windmills, seeing giants, fearsome enemies at every turn, when what we have well and truly met are but stoic stanchions brandishing blades of steel; what we see as giant foes are but our psychoses spinning madly, stirring up dust that lies deep within the darker corners of the mind. Though we see windmills, we are told we must see giants. We Sanchos have submissively stood by as one “giant” windmill upon another have been challenged by toothpicks thrust uselessly by mad Quixotes armored in rust-stained toilet paper behind which lies a giant sneer. Whenever Sancho asks or states the obvious, quixotic madmen never minds, for who is Sancho but a fool who follows with small complaint, riding on his submissive well-trained ass. Though a line not Cervantes, it could well have been, “It is a tale, told by an idiot, signifying nothing.”

The logic escapes me or perhaps there is no logic. Mad men seldom find much need for logic, it damages the façade and counters the argument. So, here we have it, the argument so logical to be reasonable; and reason is precisely what all Quixotes fear the most. It is like water splashed upon the Wicked Witch of the West, the argument melts until it is indistinguishable from a slimy puddle of water, the meanest mess on the floor.

Here then is the latest argument: “Science” has shown that for those who have been fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, masks and social distancing are neither necessary nor healthful either outdoors or indoors. It took the Quixotes a long time, but, well, at least they finally are tilting at windmills rather than imaginary giants. So, great news, let’s get together, yeah, yeah, yeah. Whoa! Not so fast, Sancho. Not everyone is vaccinated so we have to keep on keeping on because … If everyone is vaccinated, we’d all feel safe not wearing masks and not having to socially distance. Now, isn’t that simply wonderful? What is wrong with that statement, you might ask? Well, logically speaking it is what is known as a non sequitur (Latin meaning “does not follow”,) an argument in which its conclusion does not follow from its premises. In a non sequitur, the conclusion could be either true or false, but the argument is fallacious because there is a disconnection between the premise and the conclusion. A simple example but relative to the present argument: one person says, “I have been eating more vegetables lately,” and another person responds with, “a person should never eat vegetables unless they are sick, therefore, you must be sick.” To suggest that everyone will be vaccinated is a provably false premise; everyone will never be vaccinated. There will always be some who refuse to be vaccinated and some who for various health reasons cannot be vaccinated. So, to base your argument on an impossible premise, a fallacy, and expect the conclusion to be logical is a non sequitur.

There is a more human way of looking at this, one which runs counter to the fallacious logic of the Quixotes of La Cucaracha. Life itself is a risk, it can be mitigated, never eliminated; only in death is risk fully vanquished. One person says, “I am afraid of getting the coronavirus,” and another person says, “Then get vaccinated or wear a mask and/or distance yourself from other people, stay at home.” If the vaccine is truly effective (as it appears to be) then you may choose to be vaccinated … if that is your choice. For those who have had and are recovered from the coronavirus, get tested for the antibodies; if present, the science says you are immune. In both cases, which now is a significant portion of the population, the risk of coronaviral infection is infinitesimally miniscule bordering on nonexistent. For those who are vulnerable, and those who are not, who decide not to be vaccinated or who cannot be due to other health concerns, take what you determine to be appropriate precautions. To borrow a phrase, it is your body, your choice. You are free to choose as long as your choice places no burden upon others.

Just my thoughts for a Sunday for what it is worth.

Check me out on Parler @ChuckLanham #dadeacon #wakeupamerica

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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