A combined movie review (by Jill) and Covid 19 update (by Dr. Duane Rommel)!
Jill: Once again, Tom Hanks, the famous actor with the average face of Everyman, occupies center stage in heroic glory, as the Captain of an Allied ship in WW II. Their mission: to defend desperately needed supplies as they travel through the Atlantic. They face a formidable enemy, German u-boats.
The most surprising moments in the film are brief scenes where Hanks prays over his breakfast, or fixes his tie as he gazes into a mirror edged with the verse, “Jesus, the same yesterday, today and forever, Hebrews 13:8.” Or worries about the souls of the Germans he just killed.
Captain Krause is a man of faith. The story unfolds as the intense 36 hour fight to protect the convoy. Tom Hanks exudes believability Krause, directing the ship through icy winter seas and torpedo attacks. When the Germans send threatening messages in the dark night that play over the ship’s radio to the crew, “We are Grey Wolf and we are going to destroy you,” I felt the fear. But Krause skillfully leads his team to work together to destroy a few of the German U boats who are trying to kill them. Some of their own men die (war is hell) but Krause ultimately triumphs, bringing his ship into safe harbor.
In stark contrast, yesterday The Tampa Bay Times featured a front page picture of a teacher holding up a sign, “I can’t teach from a coffin.” I was shocked. In a time of war on Covid, our country and world need heroes. The teaching profession is usually made up of our leaders who instruct and inspire our next generation. The message of magic marker on the sign was worse than a lie, it was a half-truth, something more powerfully destructive than a complete falsehood. Yes, the truth is, a small percentage of those who get Covid will die. But someone dedicated to teaching truth should know that the data supports the fact that most people will not.
Dr. Duane: The fear and hysteria surrounding Covid 19 continues in a significant percentage of the population in the U.S. Because of these overblown fears, many are now advocating a delay in the opening of school. In my office, my patients ask me:
“Should kids return to school next month?”
My answer is an unqualified “YES”.
I am in agreement with the American Academy of Pediatrics, who wrote in their guidance statement: ” Schools are fundamental to child and adolescent development and well-being. They provide our children with academic instruction, social and emotional skills, safety, reliable nutrition, physical/speech and mental health therapy, and opportunities for physical activity, among other benefits.” Statistics continue to show that the risks for kids under the age of 19 are minimal for dying from Covid. Of the total number of deaths from the virus in the U.S., .0004 are in people under the age of 19. And that does not even account for the underlying conditions in those children who died. That is the total number.
So, school leaders need to ask themselves: When is the treatment worse that the illness? It’s obvious that the risks associated with the virus for our children are much less than the problems we will create in not opening the schools. This does not address the personal concerns of individual teachers. If a teacher has an identified health risk from Covid 19 according to their physician, they should not teach this year. But that does not mean we should close the schools because a small minority of teachers cannot be in the classroom. To clarify: teachers, along with the general public, need to be reassured that statistical data shows the risk of dying from Covid, for teachers under the age of 65 is very low. (see http://jillrommel.com/2020/06/01/covid-19-statistics-for-dummies/). The fear of some should not control a school districts’ decision about what is the right thing to do for our kids.
Winston Churchill said, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” We must move forward with life. Schools must open. As a physician, concerned with the whole well being of my patient families, I see how unwise policies produce more fear, which are pushing too many into unemployment, isolation and depression.
Jill and Dr. Duane: The media is not helping. Putting an image of a frightened teacher on the front page tears down the truth. Rather than instructing the public, they pander to their fears to sell papers. They play the part of “Greywolf” in the movie, the enemy, taunting the sailors with lies. “We are coming after you and will destroy you.” Instead, the media should be highlighting the lawn signs we’ve seen as we’ve biked our neighborhoods, “Thank you to our heroes: our health care workers and grocery store workers.” Our heroes show up to work. They are. Teachers need to be heroes, too, and show up for school.
Seeing a hero, like the one Tom Hanks portrayed in “Greyhound,” reminds us that right actions are based in our faith in the truth. And the truth is, getting Covid is not an automatic death sentence. Scientific data continues to support this. One would hope that schools, some with specific ‘STEM’ labels, would be places where their leaders would grasp these ideas. I know quite a few teachers who do, and are ready to start back to school.
Some British made WW II movies are based on the idea of ‘the enemy within.’ This theme used to surprise me, as I assumed that all the Allies were on the same team: ‘We’re all in this together.’ The facts reveal stories like that of Charles Lindbergh, American aviation hero, who was supporting the Nazis. Royal Edward and his wife Wallis Simpson sympathized with the Nazis … or the traitor can be turn out to be the neighbor next door. Unfortunately, there may be those among us that are trying to tear us down; who are on the Fear Team.
Facing the realities of life, like this Covid illness, forces each of us to choose what kind of person we’re going to be. Interesting that in “Greyhound,” Captain Krause found his strength in God. Duane and I have found ourselves to be in need of help these days. Not that we’re afraid of the virus, but it’s sobering and saddens to see how the fear of the virus has destroyed so much.
‘Greyhound’ ends with a prayer. Before falling into bed, exhausted after 36 hours straight of fighting the enemy, Captain Krause kneels beside his bed and says, “I thank you, my heavenly Father, that you have graciously kept me this day. Into your hands I commit my body and soul.”