Thursday, April 30, 2020

ABC Post 11--Upside Down and Kate Brown

This Corona virus is turning everything upside down and sideways.

1. We haven't been to church in weeks.
2. You can pull up to the bank in a mask and no one minds.
3. Our church has a worship team, with services on YouTube.
4. I feel sorry for Kate Brown.

Kate Brown, in case you don't know, is the governor of Oregon. She and I have never seen eye to eye on much of anything, from foster care to farm policy to fiscal matters.

She happened to speak at Amy's graduation from community college. It was a fine speech as speeches go, but I thought it very odd that she, a liberal governor, had a multi-point gun analogy in this speech. It wasn't anti-gun, either. Just a comparison of life with shooting, or something, and hitting the target. I should have taken notes.

I thought, really, Kate Brown?

Then the Corona virus hit, and like every leader in the entire world, Kate Brown was in the hot seat. Oregon had one of the first diagnosed cases in the country. With limited information, a constantly changing situation, a looming crisis, and half a dozen differing opinions yelled in her ears, she had to make a decision, right now.

So she did. She closed schools and told people to stay home.

Was it because of this that Oregon has had one of the lowest COVID-19 rates in the country, or was it because she left a loophole for people to go outside in our beautiful natural habitat for exercise, or were we just really lucky?

As with so many other aspects of this pandemic, it's too soon to tell.

Oddly, Kate Brown may have saved my hide.

When the Corona virus hit the West Coast, I very quickly formulated a strategy. I have asthma, so I know what it's like to feel like I can't breathe. In the strongest possible terms, I didn't want to catch a disease that, according to reports we were hearing from Italy, fills your lungs and takes your breath, inch by inch.

Obviously, medical treatments were going to be hit and miss for a while, since it was a new virus. So I decided I would be super careful until the first wave had passed, things settled down, doctors knew what they were doing, and effective treatment was standardized. Then I could loosen up.


Our fiction-writing critique group was planning to meet one more time in March, but we weren't sure if we should. Then Kate Brown told everyone to stay home, so that made the decision for us. Three days after we would have had our meeting, one of our members came down with a nasty case of the Corona virus.

Of course there are lots of if's in this scenario, but it was a close fly-by, and I was quite happy not to have been exposed.

So she made a decision that benefited me, but that's not why I feel compassion for Kate Brown.

People end up in leadership for all kinds of reasons. Some are appointed, others volunteer, some feel a calling, and still others shove and elbow and campaign and fight for the job.

Leading is a challenging but rewarding job, most of the time.

When a crisis hits, it can be worse than your worst nightmare.

Suddenly, you're in the spotlight like you've never been before. Stuff is unfolding around you too fast for you to keep up. Everyone is looking to you to make a decision. At least five opposing, angry, desperate factions are yelling at you that you ought to do what they say, or there's going to be a total disaster, and it will all be your fault.

And there you are, smack in the middle. A decision must be made. Only you can make it.

Your information is limited. You don't have time to research and ponder and weigh.

No matter what you decide, it's somehow going to be wrong. You will not handle the situation perfectly, because it isn't possible.

People will be furious at you. They will proclaim your faults and idiocy in loud voices, to you and to others.

Time will very slowly reveal who was right and who was wrong, but no one will remember the ones who yelled the loudest about what turned out to be wrong. In fact, they themselves will forget they ever said such things.

Few will know what it took for the person in charge to keep his or her head, make decisions, and endure all the consequences with grace.

I've watched my husband serve as a leader for many years, and I've watched from the sidelines as crises unfolded. I can still feel the weight of it, the terrible impossibility of ever getting it all right. Somehow, in those times, he kept his head, but I absorbed the shock waves from the explosions, and the hot emotions.

That's why, while I have multiple opinions about our leaders' decisions and the virus-related repercussions in this country, I don't say much, [except maybe about the appalling lack of tests!], and I try to make it easier for everyone in charge, from the President all the way down to the people at Safeway who tell you where to stand.

Whether they came by it with integrity, or begged and cheated for the job, every leader is in a terrible position right now.

And that is why I feel sorry for Kate Brown.

The world is truly upside down.

Please don't comment about specific policies, quarantines, Kate Brown, or politics in general.
I'd love to hear how you and yours have handled leadership, crises, and fallout.


  1. from the bishop's house5/01/2020 6:40 AM

    This is spot-on. As my brother said earlier, about the difficult decisions the government was facing, "Everything they do will seem overkill now, and everything they don't do will seem insufficient afterwards".

  2. Exactly! Our governor here is in SC is more like a kindly Grandfather. He talks so slow and is so kind that we feel like he is in the boat with us which really helps.

  3. So much truth in your words. It is so easy to be critical of others who are leaders that make decisions, until we or someone in our family or close friend is in that position and gets slandered that we think others are so unfair. Thanks for that reminder, I needed to hear that.

  4. Well-said, Dorcas. One thing we can do and we know it's the right thing to do is pray earnestly for our leaders. Another thing is to cooperate with their instructions (unless it's truly unscriptural) and even then we can be meek and gracious about it. LRM

    1. Yes. I've been challenged to pray more, and more specifically.

  5. Thank you Dorcas. Our poor governor here in Arizona has had to deal with people first with people demanding a stay at home order which he did. It was originally from March 31st - April 30th but by last week of April there were protests demanding he end the stay at home order. People just can't make up their minds. Our order has been extended to May 15th and honestly I have no problem with it. I've applied the Sermon on the Mount in regards to love others and to put other people health ahead of my "rights" have a party with my friends.

  6. I should have mentioned that number 2: "You can pull up to the bank in a mask and no one minds." was a LOL moment for me. LRM

  7. Good thoughts, I've had similar thoughts as this has gone on. I also have a minister husband. Over time I have become firmly settled something:with ANY situation or circumstance there are at least 2 or 3 sides to any story! Hugging fiercely to ones one particular bias is, do I dare say, not intelligent? God help us all live w graciousness!

    1. Yes. Sometimes it's hard to believe there can be that many sides to any story, but then you see for yourself...

  8. Yes. Thank you! for saying this. I get tired of everyone knocking the leaders because I am innocent enough to think they are probably doing the best they know how in a bad situation.

    1. Agree. I'm not saying there aren't nefarious schemes in the government, but I think this caught everyone by surprise and they're doing the best they can, as you said.

  9. I think we do ourselves a disservice if we don't acknowledge that bad leaders do exist. True leadership is a calling, and not everyone put in a position of power has it. We are fortunate, however, that this situation has shown a spotlight not only on the bad leaders--who are few, loud, and grab the microphone whenever they can--but also on the ones who have donned the mantle of true leadership and are courageously and unselfishly doing the best they can to protect and serve the people in their charge.

    1. I agree. This crisis has really shown what leaders are made of.

  10. Thank you for your article and perspective. Difficult situations certainly bring out one's inner character, whether good or bad.
    One phrase caught my attention - "Time will very slowly reveal who was right and who was wrong..." Perhaps I'm taking this phrase in a little different direction than you meant it, but I think there is something to consider here. My thoughts relate more to situations we are in, rather than looking outward to other situations such as the government.
    We tend to so quickly go to who is right and who is wrong. But if we would first consider what is right and what is wrong, rather than who is right and who is wrong, I think it would clarify a lot of things for us. Situations that seem so confusing would become more clear. And once we have determined what is right and what is wrong, then we can each compare ourselves to that, rather than comparing ourselves to each other. I've seen too many situations where the focus begins with the horizontal (where do I stand compared to someone else) rather than the vertical (where do I stand in relationship to God), and it leads to a lot of friction and confusion.

    1. I think this is a very wise observation.

  11. "I've watched my husband serve as a leader for many years, and I've watched from the sidelines as crises unfolded. I can still feel the weight of it, the terrible impossibility of ever getting it all right. Somehow, in those times, he kept his head, but I absorbed the shock waves from the explosions, and the hot emotions."
    These sentence bring clarity and validation to things a face as a wife of a leader. Thank you!

    1. I'm glad you feel validated but I'm sad you've gone through similar experiences. Stay strong.

  12. Your empathy for Governor Brown dovetails wonderfully with the preceding "Ask Aunt Dorcas": you see mothers as leaders and therefore vulnerable to all the reactions aimed at elected leaders. Mothers volunteered for their roles, and did not expect to be judged so far beyond the boundaries of family! Mothers, governors, mayors, teachers, pastors, etc. – all are human beings, and deserve to have their humanity recognized by their critics.

    1. I hadn't thought about that, but you're right.