Commentary: Pandemic reveals the worst but also the best in people

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Dr. Lucas Boyd, Columnist

Dr. Lucas G. (Luke) Boyd is the retired principal of Battle Ground Academy. He lives in Franklin and may be contacted at

The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, but it’s been going on long enough that we do have some perspective.  

By comparison, probably the closest event to it is the Spanish flu of 1918, and there are only a handful of people still around who lived through that.  

I had an uncle who made it through World War I but succumbed to the flu on his way home. It seems that crises like these tend to bring out both the best and the worst in people.

Before everything shut down many weeks ago, a TV crew interviewed a teen on a crowded beach and ask him if he was concerned about getting the virus.  

He replied, “If I get it, I’ll just get it. I’m going to party.” To his credit, he later apologized.

Then there were the two teens who made and posted a video of themselves coughing on a store’s produce. The store had to throw away several hundred dollars of produce. They were found but not charged because there was no criminal intent. The report did not say, but I would hope they had to pay for the food they ruined.

One fellow stole a large quantity of masks and was caught when he tried to sell them online at a very high price. He falls into the dumb criminal category. I hope he got some jail time.

If a crisis comes, can scammers be far behind?

As soon as folks began dying, the robo calls started, offering cures and testing — for a price. In one city, a group of crooks in hazmat suits set up a tent and sold tests, using the same nose swabs multiple times. They were soon caught.

Perhaps the most sadistic thing happened during the peak of the crisis at a hospital in upstate New York. Nurses who had completed a 12-hour night shift came out to find their tires slashed. The hospital got them home and paid for replacement tires. 

Dante did not devise a level of hell harsh enough for people who would do such a thing.

One curious aspect of the pandemic has been the great toilet paper panic.  

I suspect those laying in large supplies of it are the same folks who rush out and buy up all the bread and milk when snow is forecast.  

There are plenty of substitutes available: paper towels, napkins, tissues, etc. It’s not like when I was growing up and people had to use newspaper, Sears catalogs and corn cobs.  

One friend of mine suggested using both sides of two-ply toilet paper or separating it and doubling the amount. I don’t think either of these have caught on. 

Another speculation was that the shortage might foster an increased demand for and use of bidets in the U.S. I don’t see that catching on either. Before the stay-at-home orders, we had a couple over for dinner. They brought a little gift: two rolls of toilet tissue.

It has been predicted that all this staying at home is going to cause an increase in births. I think it may also cause an increase in divorce. When all this ends, I’d like to see a ratio between the two.  

One cartoon circulating on the internet was a woman saying that she had taken up knitting. The drawing showed her sitting at home with her husband, who was guzzling beer while watching TV in his underwear. She was knitting a noose.

One good thing that has come out of the shutdown has been Mr. Clapp, who is an elementary school teacher in the Nashville area.  

One of the TV stations began putting him on each evening with a lesson parents can teach at home. He’s nerdy looking with a personality. His lessons are about using shapes around the house and contents of the spice cabinet to teach important lessons. I’m sure he’s a great teacher.  

He always ends with: “And remember, the best lesson we can teach our kids is to work hard and to be kind.” What a great philosophy.

It’s been interesting to see what news stories the newspapers are coming up with since there is not much other news besides the pandemic.  

It has been especially difficult to find sport stories when there are no sports.  There have been lengthy pieces on how to raise backyard chickens for fun and profit as well as how to cook all sorts of exotic dishes. Oversized photos also take up a good bit of space.  

There was one on how to grow a beard. I did not read it because I have had one for over 50 years. One good way is “not to shave.”  

Several of my male friends are doing so. One is growing a very unusual one. He was severely burned as a child and one side of his face is all scar tissue where no hair grows. So, he is growing a half-beard. He may become a trendsetter.

One eating establishment made for a pandemic is Sonic. You go there and eat in your car. What a novel idea. They appear to be doing good business. Honey and I went there one night. It was like a date night — almost.

One collective good that has surfaced during this pandemic is the feeling of empathy and helpfulness among people. There have been numerous examples in the news and I have seen many firsthand.  

When I have had to go out to the grocery or pharmacy, strangers in masks and gloves always offer to let me go ahead or offer to assist. A woman in our neighborhood made masks for anyone who needed one. Another woman organized a drive-by parade for a neighbor’s 80th birthday. People shopped for others. 

There is no way to list them all. As long as we have so many of these acts of kindness, there’s hope for our society.



Dr. Lucas G. (Luke) Boyd is the retired principal of Battle Ground

Academy. He lives in Franklin and may be contacted at

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