I was muttering to myself about television ads when the realization came. Not everyone thinks alike.

The idea of once-famous athletes — Joe Namath, Joe Montana and George Brett — advising me about my Medicare benefits seemed ludicrous.

Clearly, I was not the target audience.

This got me thinking about differing opinions and horse races.

Then the news came on announcing the discovery of the newest Covid variant — Omicron.

It took me a minute, but I had to admit that there are opposing views of that, too.

Back in 2020, an unknown author wrote about this. I didn’t appreciate it at that time, but now I wish I had thought to pen it first.

That thought, referring to this ongoing pandemic, was this: “We are NOT in the same boat.”

That’s important for me to remember because it helps me to understand why people behave as they do.

I am fully vaccinated and I wear a mask around others. I could get angry with those who don’t do the same because I think they are not respecting me.

Of course not. Respecting me is the last thing on their minds.

We are all struggling through the same storm, but we are definitely not in the same boat.

I think precautions are justified. That’s partly because of my age and my life view but also because of experience.

My grandmothers both died in the flu epidemic. I lived through the polio scare.

That may be a convoluted cause and effect, but that’s what I believe.

People who have never known the threats of illness think precautions are no big deal, not only optional but unnecessary.

If we still had children at home, I would be awake wondering how to stretch our budget to feed them.

If I were still of working age, I’d be assessing my job conditions.

And, heaven help those who were caught in the need to teach their children while schools went virtual.

I can’t imagine anything harder than working a full day and being required to return home and assume that responsibility. It’s no wonder we think differently.

The realities of our lives differ widely.

We have lost family members to this virus, and I pray daily for the health of those we love.

Others deny the statistics as just dirty politics, and there’s no convincing them that the threat is real.

Our perceptions and our needs vary too greatly. There are many years of this ideological conflict ahead. The coronavirus family is not just going to go away.

We will eventually emerge from the worst of this storm, but we may be facing others. Our boats are as varied as our lives, and we need to realize and deal with that.

My request is that, as we continue our individual storm-filled journeys, we remember to be kind.

Margaret Hays is a longtime Osawatomie resident who writes a weekly column for The Miami County Republic.

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