Everyone has an opinion about what’s going on. Here’s mine.
But first, some facts.
This is now a global pandemic.
We are all in this together.
Now hear me out:
If this blows over in a few weeks — which is the best case scenario — I have no doubt the people who listened to the precautions, stayed home, refused to go into work and practiced social distancing will be seen as the ones who “overreacted.” Who acted out of hysteria. They’ll be called the silly ones, seen as ridiculous for panicking or stocking their pantries.
But really, if this blows over in a couple weeks it will be *because* of the ones who stayed home. Who took this seriously. Who helped prevent the disease from spreading exponentially.
Don’t get me wrong — talking about this, even writing this blog post now is just about as uncomfortable as talking politics to friends or telling a partner you contracted a STD.
Nobody wants to be in this position. It’s uncomfortable. It’s uncharted waters. It’s ugly and awkward.
However, what I find most interesting is the way people react and cope to what’s happening.
Panic. Denial. A combination of the two.
I currently live in Los Angeles, a city hallmarked for hedonism. The pursuit of personal pleasure. It’s no surprise to see so many people embrace the “f*ck it” attitude of invincibility. To be honest, that was me a week ago.
But now, it’s hard for me to see that attitude as anything but utterly selfish.
Let’s be clear — this disease will not kill me or my peers. We are healthy, strong, young adults.
But this virus will very likely impact our parents and grandparents. Those are the ones who face the grim potential of this virus.
For me the “f*ck it” attitude hits personally.
I drive two and a half hours each way from Los Angeles to San Diego almost every week to visit my ailing father. He’s approaching his fifth year in his battle with ALS Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
He has a preexisting condition. A weakened immune system. He’s a doctor’s textbook definition of who should be worried about this.
Because of the uncertainty of coronavirus I haven’t been home to see him. Simply because as of now there’s no way to know if I’m carrying a strain of this virus that could kill him.
So when people downplay the seriousness of this health crisis, I’m left with an uncomfortable combination of hurt and confusion.
I’m not sure what it would take for people to start taking this seriously. A friend or loved one to be diagnosed with COVID? For someone in your circle or outer circle to pass away from it?
In a strange way I’m jealous of those who don’t have grandparents or ill parents to worry about. But for those of us who do, our world view is different.
You don’t have to agree with me or anyone for that matter, but I would hope you could respect the worries of another human being and recognize them as valid.
This is bigger than all of us.
I will end this post with a bit of comfort. Here’s a passage from author C.S. Lewis on “Living in an Atomic Area” written in 1948. I first heard this from the New York Times “The Daily” podcast. Please read.
In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply:
“Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”
March 15, 2020