Our Original Sin

This commentary was written by my sister Susan in reflection of current events:

Re: George Floyd et al. Our country was born with original sin that has never been atoned.

The Civil War was brutal, long and bloody, but it could not atone. The 13th and 14th amendments could not atone. Jim Crow and the KKK ensured our sin continued. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 could not atone. One could argue, and make a very good case, that the south did not lose the Civil War. Slavery continues through deliberate and determined efforts to keep black people uneducated, poor and unhealthy.

The south is awash with rabid ultra-conservatives which as a bloc in Congress can swing the entire country. And they do. Mitch McConnell was born and raised in Alabama, the heart of the Confederacy, where white men continue to work tirelessly to ensure their dominance and steadily build their wealth. Until this country atones for its sin, all that Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and their colleagues approved in Philadelphia the summer of 1776 will come to naught. Until the US Constitution includes all people in fact as well as word, we are doomed. We must correct the wrong. Now.

After over 400 years, it’s time we live up to our ideals. What started in Jamestown must end now.

Our original sin is ripping us apart.

SHOES: A Modest Proposal To Overturn An Unconstitutional Curtailment Of Our God-Given Freedom

Let us today address the “elephant” that is in everyone’s room: shoes.

For years, people have been told that they “must” wear shoes. From early childhood, we are inculcated with the belief that shoes help promote good health and hygiene, and that it is our social responsibility to wear shoes. People unquestionably accept the utter tyranny of stores and eating establishments and other public places posting placards proclaiming: “No Shoes, No Service!” and similarly oppressive policies. Shoes are even used as a proxy for decent, civilized behavior itself. Just try attending the symphony or dancing at a fancy gala affair without shoes. The oppression is real! We cannot escape the dictatorial forces which force shoes upon us.

Even as infants, we are commanded to wear shoes by well-meaning parents and care-givers. Yet observe the natural behavior of many infants who scream upon being forcibly shod, or the many toddler sho shed their shoes at every opportunity. In a state of nature, even the smallest child instinctively prefers the natural and inherent freedom of shoelessness. This freedom is a Constitutional right!!!

Our shoe-enforcing overlords also assure us that shoes provide for better hygiene and sanitation, and are a part of overall healthful living. But what are the risks really? No one gets hookworm anymore. And even those who do contract a hookworm helminthiasis are very unlikely to spread it to other unshod compatriots since the worms spread through fecal contact. And though some might argue that the obnoxious infection of athlete’s foot may be readily spread among barefoot folks, there are no studies that really confirm this. And even if such spread is occasionally confirmed, we know that athlete’s foot is typically the result of bad personal hygiene and is therefore the fault of those who catch it, as with most diseases. And why should I have to wear shoes because others are unclean?

“But,” we are assured, “shoes protect your feet!” And, “Shoes help to improve your posture!” Though those who impose shoes upon us may claim these things, where are the scientific studies to back up these wild and exaggerated claims? Sidewalks are paved and homes and public places are completely free of hazards to the unshod foot. Shoes are utterly unnecessary. Sure, if you fear for your feet, go ahead and wear shoes in public, but be aware: tens of thousands of studies confirm that shoes are completely ineffective in protecting your feet from harm.

In my own personal experience, I once suffered two broken and badly mashed toes when an 80lb stove dolly fell from a pickup truck tailgate onto my foot. Though I was at that time wearing steel toed boots, the injury happened nevertheless. Shoes provided me no protection from harm! Another time, in the desert south of Tucson, Arizona, I stepped directly on a three-inch spine from a desert ebony tree which pierced the sole of my boot and punctured the skin of the sole of my foot. The shoe failed to protect me! So even without relying on the hundreds of thousands of studies proving the uselessness of shoes, I know because my own experience perfectly confirms the fact that shoes cannot protect my feet.

There is simply no reason to wear shoes! They are uncomfortable, expensive, and awkward. Wear your shoes if you are too timid to stride forth unshod. Patronize those tyrannical establishments that compel shoe-wearing. As for me, I shall bold step forth, fearlessly free of footwear! Just say, “No!” to shoes!!!

Dammitol! I seem to have stepped on a tack!!!


In a Facebook group in which I participate, a question was recently posted to elicit thoughtful comment: “What’re you most afraid of?”

This is a good question, and one that is most pertinent to ask in today’s crisis-saturated world. What do we fear?

I’d love to be able to align myself with the thinking of Franklin Roosevelt who once assured this nation that, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” But at present it is not “fear itself” that I fear. What I fear even more than fear itself is ignorance — wanton, unreflective, unjustifiably confident ignorance which makes fun of sensible precautions and facilitates the spread of infections.

Today I read a posting asserting, among other points, that the simple act of wearing a mask “reduces oxygen up to 60%,” and “increases the risk of CO2  poisoning.” (I think they intended to terrify us with a warning about CO poisoning.) The picture also included some reasonably accurate concerns, such as masks can promote increased face-touching, but the premise appeared to be that no one would think to practice basic hygiene.

But this sort of hairy-scary hype against the wearing of masks is just ignorance on parade. For instance, masks are not, of course, impermeable to gasses. They are intended to permit nearly normal breathing. While it is possible that some reduction of O2 could happen from the effect of the mask, it certainly could not be 60%. A person who experiences a drop in O2 saturation of 20% — that is O2 saturation of 80% — is dangerously near death. If a person had an oxygen reduction of 60% — that is O2 saturation of 40% — they would be dead. No one has yet been recorded to have died simply from donning a mask.

Too, CO2 poisoning, while not an impossible condition, is astonishingly hard to achieve in any space that is even poorly ventilated, and requires a concentrated source of CO2, such as blocks of dry ice. Therefore I infer the reference was actually intended to have been to CO — carbon monoxide — which is indeed deadly in relatively small concentration, (> 35ppm) and which is a byproduct of our very own metabolism. However, the concentration of CO present in our exhalation is sufficiently negligible as to be safely ignored; even a gas-impermeable mask would not cause a person to die from CO intoxication.

By making frightening claims, and by asserting neatly precise numbers, the author of this deceit aims to have the appearance of “Science.” Of course, they are clearly ignoring medical, scientifically informed practice that has been in place for more than fourteen decades. But ignorance delights in attacking generally accepted practice as some sort of conspiracy against the ignorant. While there is every good reason to question common thinking, and to examine conventional wisdom, it is neither scientifically valid nor logically sound to immediately declare a premise false simply because it is widespread.

Despite the fact that we live in an age of ready access to vast volumes of reasonably reliable information on every subject from Science to History and vastly beyond, there seems to be a concerted effort to convince people to retreat into the “certainty” of their own fears, doubts, and personal inclinations, and not to disturb the lovely comfort of certainty with intrusive facts.

Writing in Newsweek, 21 January 1980, biochemist and writer Isaac Asimov observed, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’” Wishing a thing to be so does not, of course, make it so. Ignorance is not neutral. Ignorance is not benign. And when ignorance becomes aggressive, people die.

What am I most afraid of? Humankind’s deadliest affliction: Ignorance.

— Jamie Rawson
12 May 2020