We used to say that “the history books will show” this or that about us, but today we know that the history books that were used to teach us in our youth were uniformly sanitized and homogenized.

These days the words of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address come to mind.

“The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here,” he said.

Some things are done out of bravery in an attempt to save someone or something. Others, out of love. And still other acts are the result of neglect, refusing to believe people who are “not like us,” or maybe just out of plain old apathy.

Even today’s classroom history books are cleansed of our societal sins. Not a word can be found in most about the massacre and slaughter of our own people in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921. Mobs of White people, many of whom had been “deputized,” killed between 40 and 300 people living in their Black community. As many as 6,000 Black people were jailed.

It was a riot for the history books, but it didn’t make the cut. Someone probably said it would make “us” look bad.

Likewise, our great grandchildren might not find in their history books the underlying theme of how our local communities have treated the elderly during this pandemic.

It is not for me to say why some mockingly call it a “plandemic,” and it is not for me to say why some people are so quick to believe a conspiracy theory rather than apply Ockham’s razor to it.

But this much I will say. We are, in some cases, putting the oldest and weakest among us in the expendable category. Weeding out the weak, some say. Most of the weak are elderly with pre-existing conditions that make them vulnerable while others are housed in what we now call “congregate facilities.” That’s bureaucratese or governmentese for a building full of old and weak people. An old folks home.

This week there was a report that Rutherford County had recorded its largest single-day spike with seven deaths. Karen Powell, director of the Foothills Health District, which includes Rutherford County, attributed the surge in deaths to outbreaks at seven “congregate care facilities” in the county.

Rutherford continues to be a hot spot in the state. “Unfortunately,” Powell said, “community transmission continues to be widespread.”

I won’t waste time, space and energy on the mask argument because that is useless and wearying, but it is clear that community transmission of the virus occurs when a majority of residents refuse to follow recommendations by health and medical experts. Their reasons for doing that are not meaningful.

What is important, however, is that we accept that we--our residents, businesses, government, elected officials and people of influence--are fulfilling Lincoln’s prophesy by not speaking up and acting on the tragedy in these so-called “congregate facilities.”

We could begin by demanding that these facilities follow a rigid set of health protocols. Unless I’m missing something, the old folks contracting COVID-19 are not catching it while bellying up to the buffet table at their favorite restaurant or partying until midnight at the hoppingest bar in town.

The virus is being brought into these facilities from the outside.

The caring among us should demand that these businesses where our old people are housed publicly outline what protocols they follow and those people holding paid government positions should step up and act to ensure that they are.

Otherwise, only the dead will have seen the end.

Larry McDermott is a farmer and retired journalist living in Rutherfordton. You can email him at: hardscrabblehollowfarm@gmail.com.