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In all of human history few experiences were more horrifying than the trench warfare of World War I.

With soldiers under near constant bombardment, an artillery shell would occasionally land in an occupied portion of a trench and those nearby would have to speedily separate the dead from the wounded, and the mangled, screaming, mortally wounded from those who could be saved.

Poison gas might drift over an area; those who donned a gas mask would survive but, if they had been slow to respond, their lungs would be permanently damaged. Not a few GIs succumbed to “shell shock.” Even partial recovery from this extreme form of post traumatic stress disorder required months.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put us in much the same situation — albeit less horrific — as the doughboys faced a century ago. All of us have some human interaction and, while any one contact is unlikely to infect us, we know that, day after day, more folks are getting sick and some of them will die. No one is exempt. No one is immune.

We or one of our family members might be dead before Christmas — or, if not Christmas 2020, then Easter 2021. And even if an infected person does survive, the possibility of reinfection or long-term damage exists. Any vaccine proffered in 2021 will have been hastily tested, so many will hesitate — perhaps with good reason — to get inoculated.

In the meantime, we are all suffering from a sort of mild, slow-onset, chronic PTSD brought on by isolation, depression, stress and ennui.

This need not have been.

While it is true that COVID-19 covers the entire world, most developed nations are doing better than the United States under the “leadership” of President Donald Trump. We now know that, even when Trump well understood the seriousness of the pandemic, he lied to us. And when he himself became infected, he again lied and knowingly infected others.

Consequently, only the United States has over 200,000 deaths (more than 231,000 as of Tuesday) and only Brazil and India have over 100,000.

I have no personal knowledge of what it might be like to die of COVID-19, but it seems reasonable to suppose that it would be akin to death by poison gas: the lungs eventually give out.

But, even with this incontrovertible proof of incompetence and corruption, many DJT followers remain. These folks apparently have a religious faith in Trump that has displaced their faith in God (Trump does not display any major Christian tenets).

They are akin to the ancient Israelites who, with Moses away for 40 days, began to worship a golden calf. When Moses got back, he had the gilded idol burned, then ground to powder. He made those who had worshiped the calf swallow the powdered ashes.

The parallels between Trump and the calf go beyond similar coloration. Both are idols created by those who have lost connection to God. Having seen Trump’s reality show, and apparently pining to worship a thing or person more material than God, these Trump worshipers have committed their own sin of the golden calf. In so doing, they have swallowed the fatalistic idea that the pandemic is God’s will and no human should therefore be held responsible.

John D. Palmer, of Huntington, is a regular Gazette-Mail contributor.