It’s difficult to understand how to put empathy into action, however– especially where I live in rural Michigan.

Anti-mask and anti-social-distancing sentiment here is intense. A strong belief that the covid-19 epidemic is largely a hoax is intense.

Things were made particularly bad yesterday when the governor announced new emergency restrictions because hospitalizations are surging. A member of the White House coronavirus task force immediately tweeted out that Michiganganders should “rise up” against the restrictions.

My neighbors rallied to that cry, going about their business mask free, and scorning those who choose to wear masks.

Local restaurants are supposed to be collecting names and addresses of patrons for contact tracing, but proprietors refuse to comply. The Department of Health can’t keep up. They don’t have enough inspectors to check.

Customers at restaurants simply refuse to give their names and phone numbers and demand to be served anyway.

And they are completely validated by national leadership telling them that they are right and that we do not actually have a problem.

They are completely validated by statewide Republicans who are raising a hue and cry against the restrictions, rallying Michiganers to rebel against the governor.

There’s no place here for empathy to gain a foothold. Not until our leaders stop lying and start telling the public the truth — that we actually have a serious crisis on our hands.

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