The smartest guy I ever did business with was named Eddie Steele. I loved Eddie. When I was 50 years old Eddie would still call me “Kid.” Eddie used to say “Kid … there are three sides to every story: Yours, mine and the truth, which lies somewhere in between.”

There are probably three sides to the COVID-19 story. The truth lies somewhere between the two “sides” of the arguments for and against the drastic steps our government has imposed on us to theoretically contain the virus.

On one side of the argument is the group saying “no one should die because of this virus,” or “we could all die of this virus.”

If death was to be avoided at all costs, the following activities would be banned or seriously curtailed:

• Driving: 40,000 deaths per year

• Smoking: 450,000 deaths per year

• Alcohol: 80,000 deaths per year

• Abortion: around 650,000 deaths per year

There are many ways to die. Not all of them are physical. There is emotional death, mental death, financial death, relationship death, social death.

As a society we seem to be obsessed mainly with physical death.

But is it better to be “alive” but dead mentally, emotionally or financially? We may have saved some lives with our drastic measures to contain the virus, but many, many people have died in other ways.

The phrase “death by a thousand cuts” has been wrongly attributed to William Shakespeare. Nowhere in his plays does that phrase appear, although he does talk about death often.

“Death by a thousand cuts” is a translation of the Chinese word lingchi, the slow process of dying a lingering death. Lingchi was a form of torture used in China from about 900 AD until it was banned in 1905. You don’t want to read a more graphic description of the process, so I will spare you that.

I, along with many others I know, are now at the hands of our own government, experiencing lingchi.

I am self-employed. I sell aircraft parts to airlines. There are zero requests for parts now. My airlines are mostly grounded and most personnel cannot go to their offices. No requests for parts, no sales, no income. I have worked my butt off for seven long years to grow this business, and it is done.

One of my brothers owns three restaurants and two event centers in downtown Minneapolis. They are shuttered. He laid off 150 employees. He has spent 10 years growing his businesses. He has poured everything he has into them, with great results. He told me that 40% of all restaurants will never open again. His three restaurants may be among that 40%.

One son works for an ad agency. They have had their hours reduced 25% and have been given a 25% reduction in salary. Another son is the director of operations for a motorcycle gear company. They have been given a 40% reduction in hours and a 40% reduction in pay. The next step for both of them is being totally laid off.

My daughter managed several restaurants and has been laid off.

Lingchi. Death by a thousand cuts. No one in my family is dead yet. But if the cuts keep coming ...

What is the other side of the “shut it all down and stay at home” mentality? I suppose it would be “eat, drink and be merry … for tomorrow we shall die.” In other words, no attempt to subdue the virus, limit the effects. Certainly, that is not the truth either.

So, as my friend Eddie Steele used to say, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

By the end of April, the decisionmakers (who to this point are saving some lives, but “killing” many people’s income, businesses and mental, emotional and financial lives) need to have a plan. A plan that protects those most vulnerable — elderly people with underlying serious medical conditions — but gets the rest of us working again. More carefully, with awareness about how to avoid getting sick, but back to work and back to living again.

Every day in America, around 8,000 people die. In a month in America, around 250,000 people die. So far some 18,000 have died from the Covid 19 virus, or the virus has contributed to their deaths. So far in Minnesota, according to your paper Friday, 57 people have died from causes associated to this virus. Out of a state population of about 5.5 million. To date our federal and state governments are using a bazooka to kill a mosquito. There is no doubt they will kill the mosquito. But the collateral damage from killing the mosquito with a bazooka will change the lives of hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans, if not millions of Minnesotans forever.

My family is sacrificing almost everything we have worked for so that fewer people will get sick with this virus. Almost everyone who gets the virus will survive, with no long-term effects. In your paper this morning you point out that the median age of people dying in Minnesota is 86. And I believe you point out that 77% of those hospitalized had serious underlying health issues.

Protect those people. Stop cutting the rest of us. We cannot be expected to give up everything we have worked for in this fight. Find a truth that works for everyone and by God, find it soon.

The haters may now pick up their pens and write the paper asking, “How dare this man talk like this?” If you sat in my chair, I dare say you would write the same thing.

 

David Arundel lives in Mound.