Criticisms & Covid-19 Email
From: William Gibbons Jr
Sent: Thursday, November 19, 2020 7:39 PM
To: william's email list 2018
Subject: Criticisms & Clarifications
Greetings to each of you,
I am beginning this Monday afternoon (November 16).
I should be exercising. But, emotionally right now I need to start this
email. When I decided to check emails this morning before exercising,
I saw five in my inbox relating to "Time for a deep breath" which I
sent last Friday (November 13). Three contained a positive thank you,
one spoke of those in their family and friends who got Covid-19, plus
some who died, yet with a "but, life goes on. Viruses, germs and diseases
come and go, such is life" tone, and there was one which was mildly
I have only been receiving a few replies, at the
very most, to my emails recently so I did not scroll down any farther
as I clicked on reply to the one which had a critical tone, but had
some stats that I thought were important to share. In part, my reply
went like this . . .
"I felt lead by the Holy Spirit, since there is
currently no shortage of grim statistics and news being shared, to try
to find a way to help people stabilize a little while still reminding
them to be diligent. I am sure you realize the last thing we need .
. . is people going into deep depressions, where the ability to think
clearly, and make good decisions becomes severely impaired. I honestly
do not even have a desire to be part of the conversation right now.
There seems to be no good middle ground which will help people not to
gravitate to one of the extremes . . . I also like to remind people
that God is not on vacation."
Here is the risks per county and size of a gathering
excerpt from his email . . .
Sent: Friday, November 13, 2020 10:34 PM
To: William Gibbons Jr
Subject: Re: Time for a deep breath
I know you are trying to help us step back, look
at the big picture and remember that there is hope.
I am concerned that especially in Eaton County we
have a very big problem with people not taking covid seriously enough,
refusing [to] wear masks, and believing that the numbers have been exaggerated.
Looking at the number of new cases per week from March until now there
is a very serious trend that needs to be recognized . . . While Mid-Michigan
is not as severely effected as other parts of Michigan, this trend across
the country has been making the news due to the problem of people making
Thanksgiving plans to travel and meet with friends and family who do
not live in the same house, which could accelerate the spread rate.
Currently the risk of encountering a person with covid-19 changes per
county, but a new peer-reviewed assessment tool has identified the risks
per county and size of a gathering: an event with 10 people in Wayne
County would be 19%, but with 25 people would be 41%; In Macomb County
an event with 10 people would give a risk of 30% and with 25 people
it jumps to 59%, and at an event with 100 people the risk level in virtually
every county in Michigan would pass 80%.
After sending my reply, I started to scroll down
through the rest of my emails only to discover there were half a dozen
more pertaining to "Time for a deep breath." Two were positive, two
were critical, one simply acknowledged receipt, one was critical of
people in general, and the government in particular.
I am one of the few people I know who actually listens
to criticisms, takes them to heart, and tries to determine any validity
in them that would require change on my part. The next one I will share
was the most disturbing. It reminded me I had intended to put a line
in my email which stated "regardless of what percentages show, for those
who have died, and their families, this disease is a 100% tragedy."
The stats are not numbers, they are people. I forgot that sentence as
I typed. This email, from a long-time personal friend pointedly reminded
Sent: Friday, November 13, 2020 2:11 PM
Subject: Re: Time for a deep breath
Under playing the seriousness of covid 19 is a serious
mistake. It has taken far more lives in less than a years time than
we lost in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. Perhaps you would feel differently
if you had lost someone close to you, as we have. 3% equals three people
in a hundred. Going to an average church service seriously exposes you.
The preventable loss of even one human being is unacceptable. Please
remove me from all future mailings.
If someone you love is among those who have died
from Covid-19, most assuredly it might feel like the end of the world,
and an unwarranted happening. Grief often lashes out. But, only God
knows what is truly preventable. I vaguely remember a classic tale of
someone trying to avoid death by changing their plans to go to a certain
place, only to find death waiting at their alternate choice. I have
used that story for well over three decades as a reminder when I was
fretting about which choice would give me the outcome I desired. I still
remember clearly such emotions when I was thinking I would avoid divorce
if only I could decide the right way to turn.
I do not connect with God just once a week. I connect
every day, first thing, before I even get out of bed. Then I endeavor
to be aware of that connection every waking hour, and even minute, of
every day. I have prayed over the years for God to give me wisdom, and
to have me always speak the truth. I acknowledge often that there is
no benefit to me, or others, if what I say is false or misleading. That
is why I used phrases like "we need to be diligent about the things
we know we can do to help prevent its spread." And, "numbers can grow
exponentially, so that is why we need to be serious, and diligent about
this" in the body of text. However, we can literally worry ourselves
to death. My concern this moment is that my communications seem to be
doing as much harm, as good. I explained the difference between concern
and worry in that email. But, before I get into my choices of action,
I will share one more of the criticisms.
Sent: Friday, November 13, 2020 2:04 PM
To: William Gibbons Jr
Cc: william's email list 2018
Subject: Re: Time for a deep breath
. . . This broad look is really counterproductive
to the efforts that so many of us have been making for so long to try
to keep infections down and, to be honest, I'm disappointed. I had thought
you understood the necessity of these efforts.
Word from the working nurses I know is that Grand
Rapids hospitals are full, Sparrow is getting there, and people still
aren't taking it seriously since the governor's orders got quashed.
It's nice that you feel safe, and I understand your need to keep that
feeling and that you don't want people to panic, but broad-stroking
the numbers isn't helpful to those of us who are living in higher risk
places in the state.
(note: the Cc to william's email list went
nowhere. Your addresses are protected in Bcc.)
The whole point, and motivational reason for accepting
a nudge from the Holy Spirit to write, is that I have not been feeling
safe. Being barraged by so much negativity takes its toll. "In the
days of the frost, seek a minor sun." I figured if I, with all my
focused daily connection with God, could be feeling the pressure, and
stress, others might also need some minor sun. I find myself skipping
exercise. Like today. Letting my diet slip by giving in to food whims.
The whole "why not, what does it matter" disease. Not so good for a
person with a cardiovascular disease who takes no medications (except
a low dose aspirin), and relies on exercise, diet, natural supplements,
and more, to keep things in check. Stress, and depression, are killers
As I was having lunch (both good and bad stuff),
I turned on the TV and was reminded that my salvation was not found
in the strength of my faith, but in God's faithfulness.
And, that is as good a place as any to stop this
email for today. Tomorrow is my mom's birthday, so I will likely finish
this up on Wednesday. That will give time to see if any other emails
come in. I was a little disappointed to look up and see it is only 4:40.
You will see why when I share below a poem I recently wrote. I glanced
at the clock when I started writing this. It was 2:22.
OK. It is Wednesday. I am back. But, before I resume
clarifications, I need to make you aware of an issue with the newer
web browsers, and security programs, that is impacting my website. I
have my computer set to open up to my wsharing.com homepage whenever
I access the Internet. After Microsoft stopped supporting Internet Explorer,
I added Microsoft Edge to my system. Then it got updated to the "new
improved" Microsoft Edge. It was at that time I started to have issues
getting directly to my homepage. For months, I have had to click through
two warning screens just to get to my site. These screens vary by browser
(I have four installed so I can preview my pages before uploading them),
and I suspect according to which security program a person has. The
messages range from the commanding "You are advised to leave this website,"
to the basic "Website not secured." Succinct, but not very informative.
Some browsers now put the words "not secured" in the URL address box.
The obvious implication is it could be dangerous to proceed.
But, that is not the whole true story. A site like
mine that does not have a blog, does not ask for any personal information,
does not handle money transactions, does not offer things for sale on
the site, or involve you in any other interactive activity, does not
really have to add the burden of extra cost for fancy security. I never
knew that until the warnings started popping up on my own computer about
my own website, and I started asking questions. Previously, if I saw
such a message pop up on my computer, I immediately cancelled going
to that page, and usually exited the Internet to be sure of the disconnect.
My web host said I had no need to "secure" my site. But, these days,
perception is everything. There is no explanation of what "not secure"
relates to. For most casual users of the Internet, such a message simply
invokes fear, with the appropriate flight response built into us. So,
I told my web host I would pay the extra. And, instructed him to do
what was necessary to get my site a "secure" designation. That was early
Last week, when I emailed asking why it was taking
so long, he replied, "the reason it is taking so long is the design
of your website, because it is an older style site it is harder to secure
using the SSL certificate than newer sites are."
I am not anti-advancement in technology. But, when
constant changes create a need for me to have to go back and redo what
is already in place, I surely begin to wonder if it is worth it. I find
it immensely annoying that, after all the hard work, people will be
made afraid to visit my site by a warning that does not give adequate
information for a fuller picture by which to make a choice. I see nothing
further I can do besides share this with you. So, please be aware that
this is the case. If you were to recommend visiting my site to someone,
you might need to forewarn them that they could see such messages pop
up, but that it is not necessarily as it seems.
I generally presume that when I receive feedback
it is representative of how others might be feeling who did not write.
So, I will apologize for my apparently inadequate writing skills to
any of you who thought I was being cavalier, or casual, about the seriousness
of Covid-19. I have a small readership, most of whom are quite intelligent.
I thought it was obvious that when I included phrases like "You
need to know the whole story. And that can be challenging, because there
is always a little more to every story," and "Take the variants into
consideration," it applied to the things I was sharing as well. I thought
I made it clear I was only using the "broad view" numbers to add a perspective
which might help people see this is not a worst fears end of the world
panic time – yet. This is still a time for cool heads, and wise
choices. Preferably, to avoid the other.
Someone told me a while back that, during the campaign,
one of the candidates made the statement Americans do not panic. Whether
it was said, or not, if that were the case it would indeed make my email
unnecessary. But, empty grocery store shelves are starting to reappear
as stories on the nightly news. I sense fear levels are rising. So,
I thought trying to find some "good news" in the midst of the constant
flow of bad news, might be helpful.
Alright, so here it is as straight as I can put it.
If anyone interpreted my email as a call to ignore the protocols, you
got it wrong. Even if you saw my words as a permissive reason to slack
off on protocols, it is not what I intended. If you saw it as a challenge
to the numbers the government is putting out, or how they are disseminating
information, you got it wrong.
However, we are not sitting in the middle of the
arena surrounded by lions. People mostly survive this. Some do not,
and all unexpected death feels tragic. Sometimes, even when we know
death is coming, it is hard to avoid enormous grief. Could things get
immensely worse? Sure they could if we were to throw all caution to
the wind, and just do whatever we please regardless. But it is not where
we are at right now. We have ways out of this. An important piece to
having options is not to fall prey to fear. According to Peace Pilgrim,
and any number of great spiritual leaders, focusing on the negative
only invites further disaster. That does not mean ignore the truth.
I keep a mask with me whenever I leave my own yard, even on a solo bicycle
ride. Years ago I saw a show on TV which demonstrated the power of a
sneeze, and how far it travels. It easily goes farther than six feet
in the absence of a tissue, handkerchief, or now a mask. So six feet
is my minimum, not my standard. But, I am not going to be obnoxiously
combative about it. I have choices. I have not encouraged the board
to reopen the Center because C19 public place protocols would be next
We usually host holiday dinners at our house. Typically
with a group of between eight to thirteen family members, and friends.
We cancelled the Easter gathering this year. We will not be doing a
Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, the picture of the week I selected for
the 26th is of a set and ready Thanksgiving dinner table with no people
to be seen. My mother is 89. Donna's mother is in her 90s. There is
always a chance they could not be around for another year's holiday
dinner. I choose to err on the side of caution. Her mom is in an independent
living facility which has limited access since the beginning of Covid-19.
As I explained to Donna, I would not wish to be the one who unknowingly
introduced the disease into a community which has so far weathered the
storm. Plus, unless God were to step in with a miracle, I expect a Christmas
gathering to be off the board as well. Yet, having said all of that,
even if the numbers were 50/50, I would be encouraging people to try
to focus on the fact that half the population did not have the disease,
not that half did. Peace Pilgrim indicated that if you realized how
damaging negative thoughts are to your physical, mental, and spiritual
well being, you would endeavor to never have another one as long as
If anyone is disappointed by my perspectives, I am
sorry that I cannot explain things any better. In truth, in the bigger
picture, Covid-19 is just a symptom disease, not even the real disease.
Anyone who thinks getting past this challenge gets us off the hook,
had better hope for a spread out timetable. If we go back to our "normal
lives," how is there any reasonable expectation that we will not be
facing the same consequences over, and over, again? l have heard it
said that a true definition of insanity is repeatedly doing the same
thing, but expecting different results.
I still have seven pages of the notes I wrote early
in the morning yesterday, just after I woke up. One of them starts,
I am so glad I never got involved in social media. That is absolutely
true. You cannot say anything these days without someone, usually who
should know better, taking your words, or opinion, to task because their
own biases colored what they deemed to be your motivation, or goal.
Over the years, I have learned to pay quite a bit of attention to whether
people really listen, or not, when others speak. Very few do.
Well – my entire goal is pretty simple – serving
God well. My hope is that through the process of moving within that
goal, I will be of some benefit to those whose paths cross with mine.
I have always said it sounds altruistic, but I see it as a selfish goal.
I believe it is my best chance of finding fulfillment, and happiness
in this life. I suspect it cannot hurt my chances in whatever comes
next either. But, I have several issues which I think will need some
changes to address. One is that I am tired of jumping into the fray
voluntarily, just because I felt a nudge to do so. Another is that I
have never been very good at processing criticism well internally. Seems
there has been a lot of that these 26 years, especially in recent years.
Perhaps God thinks I need the practice. I have, at least, learned not
to always react, or respond, externally.
One area I still see myself as not very good at is
being thankful. I normally try to avoid all of the Covid-19 numbers,
and focus instead on the many blessings I (and we) have in spite of
all that is going on. I will be endeavoring to get back to that routine.
I believe true thankfulness has a more powerful influence on our well
being than any of our man-made drugs. I am thankful God has guided my
life along paths that taught me my best bet was to focus on Him. I am
really thankful He truly is still sovereign over all of His creation,
and it does not depend entirely on us getting it right. I am thankful
He has taught me the power of hope. I am thankful for those of you who
took the time to respond positively to the "Time for a deep breath"
email. It helps to soothe the wounds I experience from the critical
ones. And yet, I am also thankful for those who spoke their hearts critically,
even though it stresses me. It also requires me to pause for additional
self-examination, and can become the impetus for making changes considered,
but not yet acted upon.
I am not an expert on dreams. However, my interpretation
of this dream is it was God's way of saying not to fret over specific
choices any longer. It is fine to choose one option. It is also fine
to choose the other option. It is important right now because the main
concern I have had preventing me from simply disconnecting from what
I see as the mania of the electronic communications world is – I did
not wish to wimp out on whatever the task was God called me to do.
Before I began this digital leg of my journey back
in 2002, I sat in a monastery in Arkansas praying about whether to take
my work online. As I prayed, I noticed a spider building its web. I
took that as a possible hint to proceed, but a warning also came into
my consciousness. I remembered a story I had read, or heard, about the
life of a spider, and a fly. I will not relate the entire thing, but
the concluding thought was that although we would see the fly, now stuck
to the web, as the lesser – the fly had spent its life flying freely
in the world, while the spider had spent most of its life already trapped
in this much smaller world of its own creation. I admonished myself
even then to be careful I did not get trapped by my own web creation.
That was before I even knew what an email was, or
owned a cell phone. These days, I monitor 13 different email addresses
for family, the T&SC organization, and the various aspects of what I
do. I used to take the time to walk in the woods, pause someplace, and
write a poem with a pencil on a piece of paper. Now I spend my time
typing an email (over two hours on that small first section written
on Monday), then have to add additional time dealing with the spin people
place on it as they put their own interpretation on my motivations,
and what I was trying to say. I am not lamenting my choices. Especially
all the time, and work, it took setting up and converting everything
to a non-profit. That was time and work not spent on the things I found
more joy in doing. Yet, I think the Teaching & Sharing Centers has the
potential to help us work our way out of the cultural mess we have all
contributed to. That is, if people ever start taking it seriously as
God's work, and not mine. My work, at this point, is focusing on the
william's works branch of the organization. Back to the basics
I started out to share.
So, where is this nostalgic walk of reminiscing leading?
There is an old saying, "if you cannot stand the heat, get out of the
kitchen." Trump's obnoxious personality makes him an easy target to
focus our blame for everything. Then we do not have to seriously look
at ourselves. But, I see bullies in every persuasion these days. Long
before Trump ever came onto the scene, I was using Kevin De Young's quote,
"tolerance has become militantly intolerant." The constant barrage of
opinions through all the modern electronics communication options has
become too much heat for me. I have no real need to add my opinion.
Only God's opinion truly matters when all is said and done. I have been
taking small steps to disconnect. Now, like I did in 2017, I will take
a break from all emails originating from my addresses in 2021. I will
leave the addresses in place, and respond to emails sent to me. But,
there will be no new outgoing emails created, or sent. Perhaps I can
use the time to work on the backlog of a few thousand emails still waiting
to be filed, archived, or deleted. I am getting better at using the
delete button. I will reassess how I feel about "being in the kitchen"
at the end of 2021, unless God specifically instructs otherwise.
I will continue to update that "last newsletter"
on my website until all of my notes have been added into it, or discarded
because I decided they were redundant. Sounds like a simple enough process,
but it is not. With my general lack of memory, I often do not realize
I already have the same, or a similar, thing in another document. Sometimes
even in the same newsletter.
As always, may God guide each of us through these
unsettling times, and keep us mindful of sharing the gifts and blessings
God has provided to every one of us. Plus, regardless of how different
your viewpoints might be, remember to cut your neighbor some slack.
In the big picture, we are all struggling to find our way through the
"Hearing that Jesus had
silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them,
an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 'Teacher,
which is the greatest commandment in the Law?'
Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and
with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and
greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor
as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'
" – Matthew 22:34-40
P.S. If anyone who has read this is still angry,
or disappointed, or newly so, I will again apologize. It was not intended
as some kind of rebuttal, just a clarification, and perhaps a chance
for additional sharing. But, this is it. I learned a long time ago,
persisting in trying to fix something often simply makes matters worse.
I have been wrong about many things over the course of my life. I have
often cautioned people not to believe something just because I said
it. Verify things for yourself. I can only share what I have, and where
I am, at any given time. If you do not hear from me on January 1, 2022,
I most likely either decided to stay out of the kitchen, or I did not
make it through 2021.
Of course, those who know me well might offer a third
possibility. That when I came back into the room I could not remember
what it was I intended to do there. A smile, or a grin, is OK. Be well.
Try to find joy in as much of life as you can. I will still be around
– God willing.
This information was added on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 2020
I am not the webmaster for the Teaching & Sharing
Centers website. As of this writing, it still shows as a "not
secure" site. So, I thought I would show you what that looks like,
and what happens if you click on the words "not secure." As you can
see (below left), the primary caution is about things like
passwords, credit card numbers, and any sensitive information a site
might ask for. I did design the Teaching & Sharing Centers site
place you can enter information is onto the membership application.
The site does not store, or transfer that info. You must print the
form, sign it, then send it by regular mail, or as a PDF scan
attached to an email. Making an online contribution takes you to an
outside option, not within the site. The board of trustees will need
to decide if they wish to change the www.tscenters.org site, but as
it stands now, there is no real danger to you in the "not secure"
As for my www.wsharing.com site, I went online
this morning to see if I could create clearer images for the body of
the not secure story above. I did. But, when I went online around
noon to get some additional info for this insert, it opened directly
to my site. I clicked on the little lock, and the below (right)
window appeared. Apparently, like me, Scott (my web host) has been
spending his morning this Thanksgiving Day working. I was amazed to
see my site finally having a secured designation. I definitely add
that to my list of things to be thankful for.
Here is the "Time for a deep breath" email referred to
above . . .
From: William Gibbons Jr
Sent: Friday, November 13, 2020 12:38 PM
To: william's email list 2018
Subject: Time for a deep breath
Greetings to each of you,
OK, for those of you like me who tend to absorb the
stress around you, it is time to take a deep breath, and keep things
in perspective. I do not follow the Covid-19 numbers on TV, or on the
Internet, but I do have family members who feel the need to inform me
of them. So, I decided two days ago that I should send an email. Then
I wavered, wondering if they are being read, and of any real help.
Stats show that while 80% of text messages get read, only 20% of emails
Since you are receiving this, you know which side
of that argument won. So here goes. Yes, Covid-19 is a serious disease.
Yes, we need to be diligent about the things we know we can do to help
prevent its spread. No, it is not the end of the world. I am fairly
sure God will let me finish this email before I might have to change
that to – well, anything is possible.
Keeping it in perspective,
I thought it was interesting when I visited the Michigan
Covid-19 information site that there was a color coded map by county.
The darker the color, the worse things looked. But, the color was determined
by a per million population calculation. By that method, if you lived
in a county with a population of two, and one of you had Covid-19, you
would show the darkest color, because it would put you in the category
of 500,000 per million of population. Over half a century ago, when
I was in college, I had a statistics class that pretty much showed you
cannot just go on face value with statistical numbers. You need to know
the whole story. And that can be challenging, because there is always
a little more to every story.
Here, I am going to use broad whole numbers. We have
had this disease around long enough to know that the elders in our culture
are harder hit than the younger, etc. Take the variants into consideration.
Then remember, we should all be diligent regardless, because anyone
can spread the disease. Not a thing I believe Jesus would want me to
Michigan has a population of 10,045,000.
On 11/11/20, C19 cases totaled 229,285.
On 11/13/20, C19 cases totaled 236,225.
Both of those numbers divide out to be less than 3% of the population.
Unless you live, or work, in a nursing home, or some other similar high
risk situation, that would mean 97 out of 100 people you cross paths
with likely do not have the disease, even though some might simply
not be showing any symptoms.
On 11/11/20, C19 deaths totaled 7,766.
On 11/13/20, C19 deaths totaled 7,811.
Both of those numbers divide out to be quite a bit less than 4%, but
more than 3%, of those who got, or have, the disease. 96 out of 100
survive. That is about the rate I was told before going in for quadruple
by-pass open heart surgery in 2006. The Covid-19 numbers for people
like me are not as good as the overall averages, but you get the point.
The population of the United States is 331,697,316.
On 11/13/20, C19 cases totaled 10,314,254. Just slightly over
3% of the population.
On 11/13/20, C19 deaths totaled 241,069. Less than 3%, but more than
2%, of those who got, or have, the disease.
If the Michigan current daily rate (6,940) played
out the same until the end of the year, the infection rate would be
Less than 6%, but more than 5%, of Michigan’s population. 94 out of
100 would still not have the disease. Numbers can grow exponentially,
so that is why we need to be serious, and diligent about this. Still,
things are not as dark as they might feel. Most of us by now knows somebody
personally who got the disease. That makes it feel closer, and bigger.
But here is another chart to keep things in perspective.
The world population grows at a rate faster than
one person per second, so I am not even bringing that into play here.
But, here are the world deaths by category when I
checked the https://www.worldometers.info site earlier today.
disease deaths this year
caused by cancer this year
of children under 5 this year
caused by smoking this year
caused by alcohol this year
caused by HIV/AIDS this year
Deaths caused by Covid-19 Coronavirus this year*
traffic accident fatalities this year
caused by malaria this year
flu deaths this year
of mothers during birth this year
I question if countries like China, and Russia are all that candid
about their numbers. But, even so, it is an interesting chart
when you see that numbers like smoking are three times larger.
Covid-19 would have a lot of catching up to do. I think we should
try our best not to let it do that, but maybe we should be giving
some concern to the other numbers as well.
Peace Pilgrim pointed out that worry is a pretty much useless emotion,
as far as your overall well-being. Concern is good. It usually means
there is something you can do to help alleviate the situation. I have
been sensing a lot of worry lately. A counterpart to worry, which can
follow in its footsteps, is apathy. When worry grows to the point of
giving up, concern can get left behind in the dust, and a caution to
the wind attitude can acerbate things. I think perspective is important.
Yesterday I uploaded a revised first page of my “last newsletter.”
I added a section topically related to the general theme of this email,
but not about Covid-19. If you would like to take a look, click the
below link, then scroll quite a way down the page. The new text is just
before, and after, the “things are not getting worse” graphic.
Be well. Try to find something enjoyable in the midst of all the
craziness. Stay safe. And, be thankful that God is still sovereign over
the entire universe. That includes us, and whatever troubles come our