I once worked in a restaurant where the expected confirmation response to a question or request, the “Polo” to one’s “Marco,” was “Heard.” I liked it. It seemed succinct, yet active. Not only did the single syllable communicate that the speaker’s words were effectively conveyed, but they were clearly acknowledged. Processed and ready to be acted upon. All with just one word.

However, that’s not the herd I’m talking about at the moment. I’m thinking about this kind of herd:

Herd – verb
  1. 1. (with reference to a group of people or animals) move in a particular

Just like it’s homonym brethren “heard,” herd can be a verb. You know, like how some dogs instinctually herd other animals?  But, I’m thinking of the usage as more of a noun employed to describe the actual group of things moving in a common direction. A herd of buffalo comes to mind or lemmings, maybe.

I’m not a herd person, in fact, herds can be kind of scary. I have a vague childhood memory of a school movie, on an actual projector with spools for the film, that showed lemmings running together to some predetermined location where together they individually launch themselves off a cliff.

Why would I ever want to be part of a herd after that quality academic lesson?

Herd mentality is something we’re seeing in our country with greater frequency than I ever recall witnessing. We’ve chosen our respective sides and are committed to our positions. The arguments we’re having as a society come from a place that is purely emotional because we’ve been encouraged to have disdain for science and education. We no longer think critically as we hungrily consume everyone else’s thoughts because we’re generally too occupied to have our own. It’s not pretty.

We fight about masks and whose lives matter, about what’s an appropriate way to register refusal to continue with the status f*cking quo and how to demand change.  To me, the most disturbing and frightening part of this current situation is the failure of our country to unite during the most widespread pandemic in a century. During a crisis of unimagined consequence we chose to fight – against one another instead of as a unified force against a disease that has been permitted by the federal government to run virtually unabated throughout our country.

There are those who willingly indulge Covid’s romp through society believing that exposure to this virus will ultimately help us to gain the upper hand on this illness which has been responsible for the loss of more than 150,000 American lives. These people scoff at the precautions taken by responsible leaders and support the theory of natural herd immunity believing that exposure to the virus will ultimately provide protection from it. Maybe they’re right, but I’ll keep avoiding large groups of people and wearing my mask nonetheless.

Speaking of COVID, or disease in general, building up an immunity to things which present a danger to our health, be it physical, mental or emotional is a uniquely individual process, I think. You might develop the necessary antibodies to resist a threat to your health easily, while someone else may require repeated exposure and even sickness, before finally developing the ability to fight off the menace to our well being successfully. It’s probably not possible to accurately predict when someone has received sufficient exposure to prompt a resistance to a virus, but, I can tell you when it happens it comes with a sense of freedom and well being. At last, that illness, be it literal or figurative, is over.


2 thoughts on “Herd

  1. Re: your opening — I’m annoyed by the commonly used response now, “You’ve got it.” I want to say, “No I don’t, you just took my order.”

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