Between the Lines



I try my very best to keep these articles centered around uniquely Blount County things. I also make it a point to highlight the positive in an often overly negative world. However, this particular article, despite my best efforts, has become quite the challenge on that front.

You see, a little less than a month ago we were asked to do our part and slow the spread of what we now call the coronavirus, or COVID-19. As much as I would love to never hear the word “coronavirus,” or even “virus” for that matter, that word has become a daily utterance to most.

Blount Countians are by no stretch of the imagination dumb. We get the importance of toeing the line and doing what is best for our fellow residents. I am always so proud to see the outpouring of support, love, sympathy, and generosity in times of need. That is why, lately, I have been perplexed by the actions of many here in Blount County.

This virus, no matter its origins, is here…right in our backyards. Some call it a hoax and others claim the media is grossly exaggerating the situation. I am not a doctor nor am I an expert in infectious diseases. What I am is a person who has a mother and father both nearing their 80s. I am a friend who has many people in my life with cancer, autoimmune disorders, and disabilities. I am a human who doesn’t want to see anyone get sick, not to mention put our dedicated first responders and medical professionals at further risk of harm.

Please don’t misunderstand me… social distancing, working from home, an eroding economy and joblessness… it all sucks. The question I can’t seem to find a good, solid answer to is “Why make it worse?”

You don’t have to believe it. You don’t have to take it seriously. Please, roll your eyes all day long at the news. I fully support your right to believe anything and everything you want. However, the buck stops there. You don’t have the right to mistreat others. You don’t have the right to dismiss a pandemic and put others at risk because you don’t like the rules. You don’t have the right to ignore the ailments of your neighbors just because you don’t want to be inconvenienced. (Please, save the Constitutional arguments for when this is all over).

Please be a helper. Pull up your britches, even if you think this is all an overreaction, and do it for everyone else. Even if you don’t want to help, don’t harm. God forbid you find yourself on the other side of the argument.

I guess I’m just asking you to do your part.

Until next time, I hope you find something new here in Blount County. It’s a good old place to call home.

-Richard Phillips