Speaking Truth

The talk at a family gathering ventured into the fraught politics of the pandemic, yet bigger truths held us together

Sheldon Clay
ILLUMINATION
Published in
5 min readJul 29, 2023

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Photo by Gerrie van der Walt on Unsplash

I had a conversation recently with a couple of close relatives. Actually, let me back up. They’re better described as lifelong friends who I love like brothers, who also happen to be relatives.

One is a brilliant scientist. I remember visiting him in his lab at MIT decades ago when we were just starting out in our careers. I was impressed when he told us the air in the place all flowed inward, so if they cooked up something especially nasty it wouldn’t float out into the wider world on some errant breeze.

The ensuing years took us in vastly different directions. I got a job at an ad agency. The inventive one in our group worked in stagecraft and then construction. The scientist came up with a discovery that made him world-famous, at least in scientific circles.

When our big extended family gathered back in town on a recent mid-summer afternoon the three of us headed out onto the patio, Spotted Cow beers in hand, for a good talk. I was struck by a random curiosity stemming from that ancient visit to the MIT lab and asked, “So what do you think, lab leak or Wuhan wet market?” It’s like I kicked the lid off Pandora’s box by bringing up — let’s be…

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Sheldon Clay
ILLUMINATION

Writer. Observer of mass culture, communications and creativity.