Like many, my heart is heavy as I watch our beloved America undergo a transition into a country with which I am not familiar.

Simple pleasures such as Facebook, going to church, watching the news, weekly grandpa/granddaughter Sisters Bakery outings and poker with friends have become a thing of the past. Directed by local and state government orders, churches closed, non-essential businesses shut down, schools closed, sporting events canceled, grandparents separated from grandchildren, payments were made to individuals and businesses, $2,400-per-month incentives for not working, facemasks became a wardrobe accessory and healthy families self-quarantined. In addition, cities have allowed rioting, burning, looting, murder, defunding of police departments and a complete occupation of a downtown area.

What happened? Did we incur a nuclear attack, a foreign invasion, or did some other threat occur that has never occurred in American history? No, it was a virus and a horrific incident of police brutality that led to an assault on our freedoms, liberties, and rights.

As society analyzes our responses to the life-threatening virus, I’d like to share a personal account that has shaped my worldview. In 1941, my father was a poor, young, hillbilly from the boondocks of Missouri, who became the first in his family to leave the farm for college. As an ambitious freshman on December 7, his future of hope and opportunity was suddenly shattered when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and threatened the freedoms and liberties which defined his country. He gathered his buddies and headed for the nearest recruitment center. Like millions of other young men of his generation, my dad believed protecting freedom and liberty was worth the sacrifice of their own ambitions, and even their life.

Although the virus and war are incomparable, the threat to our freedom and liberties is not, and it is disheartening how easily we have surrendered them.

During a recent conversation, my friend said that “For every ‘fact’ there are ‘facts’ to the contrary.” That led me to quote Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the late Democratic senator from New York, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not his own facts.” Andrew McCarthy of the National Review added, “Real progress is only possible, and real cohesion is only stable, if a society can agree that there are objective facts, and that they can be gotten at through reason and common sense. Only with that in place is it possible for us to work out our differences, or at least disagree in peace. You don’t get to have your own facts.”

So let’s review some facts regarding issues of the past four months.

COVID-19. USA has 128,000 deaths or .04 percent of the population (43 percent were in nursing homes, 94 percent had pre-existing health conditions). Oregon has 204 deaths or .0049 percent of the population. Deschutes County has zero deaths. In comparison, with less than half the current population, the 1957-58 Asian flu had 116,000 deaths and the 1968-69 Hong Kong flu had 100,000 deaths in the USA. No government mandated lockdowns or shutdowns occurred.

Police targeting Black men. According to the Washington Post, in 2019 there were 10 unarmed Black men killed by police. In six of those incidents, the officer was under physical assault by the victim. Of the 1,004 people killed by officers, 236 were Black and 371 were white. In respect to all homicides, 93 percent of Black murders are committed by Black people and 84 percent of white murders are committed by white people.

Statistical facts are void of interpretation, ideology, and prejudices, yet they form the foundation from which we base our decisions and actions. My encouragement is that we all delve into the facts before we rush to the protest line.