Michael Martin Murphey is a very gifted singer and songwriter. 

Perhaps, you might recall his first hit single “Wildfire.” The song was about a pony, and the inspiration for crafting the song came to Mr. Murphey in a dream.

But in 1990, Mr. Murphey chose to reinvent himself with the release of the album Cowboy Songs. This was a compilation of traditional songs and some new ones about the real lives of real cowboys out on the wide open ranges west of the Mississippi River.

I love that album. I would want it with me if I was washed ashore on some isolated island. The songs on the album made me laugh, cry, and ponder. 

I especially like Mr. Murphey’s version of “Tying Knots In The Devil’s Tail.” This song is actually based upon a poem written by a real cowboy from northern Arizona, Gail Gardner.

The song describes two cowboys who decide they need a break from working with cattle.

In fact one of the cowboys, Sandy Bob, declares:  “I’m tired of this cowography and allows I’m going to town.”

They go to town, get wound a bit too tight at the saloon, and on the way back to their cow camp they encounter the devil on the trail. 

Needless to say, the devil made an unwise decision to challenge two cowboys that late afternoon. Sandy Bob and Buster Jiggs didn’t finish him off, (too bad they didn’t), but they did leave a lasting impact on the devil.

Right about now, I can identify with Sandy Bob when he declared: “I’m tired of this cowography!”

Just maybe, you might be ready to shout out like Sandy Bob, in your loudest outside voice:  “I’m tired of the covidography!”

I can’t imagine anyone from any corner of the world who has not grown weary from the devilish impact of COVID-19. It is a mean demon— a robber of life, a master at disruption, and a divider.

Being a natural born worrier, covidography worries me. 

I worry about my family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, and strangers. 

I worry about those who have lost loved ones. 

I worry about people who have lost their employment and the tidal wave of hurt this has caused for them. 

I worry about how lives have been forever altered, and because of these changes people might not ever, ever recover.

I worry about the scramble to develop a reliable vaccine. I worry  that much needed protocols will be skipped or ignored in the race to find a profit.

I worry about the mental health of every person who is in the trenches with COVID-19 during all their waking hours. 

I worry about the mental health of people who are at their wits end trying to figure out how to survive.

I worry about students in school systems who will continue to fall behind in this environment.

I worry about the morale of teachers.

I worry about the capacity of churches to meet needs.

But, out of all of my worries related to covidography, here is what worries me the most:  division.

A long, long time ago, I can remember hearing a principal in a faculty meeting asking as the meeting was wrapping up—“Does anyone have anything for the good of the cause?”

Yes, I do. 

At this very moment, I fear that we have lost our collective desire to be a part of the good of the cause.

And to that, I want to be like Gomer when Barney issued him a ticket for making an illegal u-turn. 

When Barney hands him the ticket, Gomer mutters something under his breath. 

But, sparked by his frustration, Gomer shifts his demeanor and shouts at Barney what he had previously mumbled: “You just go up an alley and holler fish!!”

I want to holler at our covidography division something more vile than Gomer’s uncharacteristic outburst.

Where is our unity, our sacrifice, our good of the cause against this out of control tormentor? 

Why is it so hard for us to comply with a simple request like wearing a mask?

The non-Einsteinian answer is this:  selfish.  

I know I could be wrong, way, way wrong, but during World War II, if our leaders said to America—“we need your help, we need you to wear not one, but two masks outside your home at all times.” My heart believes Americans would have complied.

What’s the difference now?

We are selfishly divided.

We are not thinking for the good of the cause.

I will confess to you I have many, many, many selfish moments in my life, and I suspect I have more in me too. 

But, why would I want my selfishness to continue to allow covidography to have a trouble free path of destruction?

Don’t you, me, we, us want to be a bit like Sandy Bob and Buster Jiggs in their encounter with the devil?

Don’t we want to rough up COVID-19 by making its path more difficult?

Maybe we should ask the families of the 220,000 Americans who lost a loved one? Would that number be different if we chose to be more compliant rather than more selfish?

Here is another worry I have—what are we going to learn from covidography, what will be our takeaway?

What will be different the next time America is faced with such a crisis? 

Will we have the courage to see covidography as an opportunity to learn?

 Or, will we do like we have done with other troubles— barely survive, forget the good of the cause, and move on?

I pray the takeaway is more than this observation—you know whenever I wear my mask with my glasses on— my glasses fog up.

If that is our only takeaway, then we’re as good as dead—both now and in the future.

We can’t let that happen.

Sandy Bob and Buster Jiggs did not retreat from their encounter with the devil.

Currently, our selfish non-compliance encounters with covidography are not working. This unacceptable mentality will only allow for more death, disruption, and division. 

I am a poor mathematician, but in Hebrews Chapter 11, I count the use of the word “faith” at least 25 times. I too am a poor student of the Bible, but that chapter cites examples of faith in the lives of all kinds of people.

If America is to push back covidography, we need to find a way to renew our faith in each other.

Faith that we can work collectively and cooperatively for the good of the cause.

Sandy Bob and Buster Jiggs came together for the good of the cause.

Sandy Bob and Buster Jiggs had faith in each other.

They were not divided.

The devil could not handle the skills and tactics of those two cowboys.

Doesn’t covidography deserve a dose of what the devil experienced out on that trail?

I know the answer and so do you.

Our selfish division must stop.

Covidography loves our division.

Covidography can’t handle an America with faith and trust in each other. 

We are overdue to commit to the good of the cause.

Masks for covidography by Bill Pike

2 thoughts on “covidography”

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