Modern societies are big. Really big. There are hundreds-of-millions, even billions in some. The US population is well over 300-million and climbing. That’s a lot of people to mange during a global pandemic. When you have this many people with which to communicate, it’s important to choose your words carefully. What further complicates the matter is that different people take the meanings of messages in different ways, no matter how carefully those messages are crafted. We could debate forever about who said what, when, how and why, but that won’t do much good for us now. What we can do, however, is identify where all the hysteria is coming from regarding the recent measures that have been enacted in an attempt to control the spread of the virus. That will tell us a lot about how we should behave while we ride out this strange period in our lives.
First, let’s make one thing perfectly clear for those who think this pandemic is overblown, exaggerated, or otherwise falsely reported throughout the globe. If that’s true, we should be applauding the entire world for finally figuring out a way to peacefully come to unanimous agreement about something, though it may be a fake something. Yes, we should rejoice in a global initiative so powerfully and cunningly coordinated as to occupy every media outlet on earth, create ceasefires that put a pause on wars, and inspire a global scientific focus on a single objective to benefit not one country but humankind as a whole. Fake, you say? Well, I say it’s wonderfully unifying to say the least, literally the least. So, bravo to the world for such unprecedented cooperation.
We should make one more thing perfectly clear before we get to the matter of identifying the source of hysteria in this country. It is simply this: there was no plan from the beginning. There was no official instruction booklet on how to react to a pandemic caused by a virus that isn’t the flu but spreads like the flu only faster, damages the lungs of the elderly more so than the young, sometimes causes stroke, etc. You get the point; it’s a new infection for which we had no knowledge to address with any guarantee of success. This is a fact upon which we can all agree. From the beginning this was unknown, and that which is unknown is frightful, and that which is frightful can lead to hysteria for some.
In the face of this unknown virus, there were other factors that lead to our current state of hysteria. These factors all fall into the category of preparedness, the lack of it. To list a few, if the US had sufficient testing capabilities, there would have never been a need for Stay-at-home Orders at the State level. If the US had a sufficient supply of masks there would have never been a need to close nonessential businesses. If the US had an infectious disease protocol in place that included standardized cultural behaviors (like mask-wearing) as they do in Asian Cultures, there would have never been cause for panic in the first place.
Hindsight, as they say, is twenty-twenty. So there’s no sense in complaining about these things now. What we can seek to address, however, is our current attitudes and the messages we continually share with each other over social media. In short, we can minimize the hysteria.
The far Right seems to blame the Media, and they blame the Left for giving credence to the media and believing what they share from scientific reports. They make use of the derogatory “Sheeple” to describe those people who “blindly follow the rules” like sheep, with no understanding of the truth, which is that “the government is herding the masses” to be imprisoned in their own homes. To what end, they do not specify save for the Governor’s desire to remove our freedoms. And to what end might that serve? The logic, if there is any, gets a little unspecified and jumbled from there.
So who is creating all the hysteria? Is it the Media for only reporting “negative news” about a viral crisis that appears to have no positive qualities to report? Is it the Liberals for complying all too cooperatively with CDC guidelines and prevention measures for minimizing viral spread? Is it the State Governments for putting public health measures in place to limit exposure? Or is it all the whiny self-righteous loudmouths who jump to ridiculous conclusions about “government conspiracies” involving rogue governors that seek to “remove our inalienable rights” and “take away all our freedoms”? We all know the answer. They are the same people who support, and take part in, the carrying of assault weapons to the steps of government, the deliberate blocking of access to hospitals, and the refusal to wear masks in crowded demonstrations under the guise of Constitutional privilege.
This kind of unabashed overconfidence in the absurd stinks of over-privilege and ignorance all at once; and it serves nothing but to inflame both sides of the isle. The Right stirs their self-serving pot while the Left hyperventilates in attempt to blow out the raging flames below. Such efforts accomplish only to add oxygen to the glowing underside of an already feverishly bubbling cauldron.
So what should we as individuals do about this? For starters we can access our sense of compassion. We can empathize.
Many of these people have lost their jobs, which is scary. Some get unemployment checks and government relief but in many cases their finances are still stretched to the limit. The stress of it causes them to fear their futures, to behave poorly, to act selfishly, and to say things on social media that seem illogical if not idiotic. We’ve all had money problems, well, many of us, so we should be able to relate. I had a particularly rough time during the 2009 crisis, and now this downturn seems to be hitting a different set of the population who are feeling the same pain I felt.
To them I would like to say this downturn is temporary, and we’ll get through it OK. Actually, what I’m really tempted to say is that they only have the US government to blame. Our government dropped the ball. What’s worse, our government right now has the power and resources to help you, to cover your wage, to pay your medical expenses, and to get us through this, but it chooses to help big business instead, and with no caveats to ensure the welfare of its employees. It is not the media’s fault for reporting the failures of our government, and it certainly isn’t the Liberals’ fault for trusting in the advice of scientists.
But if I were to tell them that, what purpose would it serve? They would never join me in my thinking. They are stuck in their ways, just as I am stuck, convinced that what I write here is earnest and true. It’s a conundrum, because, on one hand, any colaborative choice to keep silent could easily have negative political implications while, on the other, continually vocalizing our opinions to every blowhard Trumpeter will just tend to create more hysteria leading to more deplorable behavior. So, what do you think? Should we fan the flames, or stand silently awaiting November?
As for me, well, sometimes I’ll be working and sometimes I’ll be sitting quietly at home in my back yard grilling burgers delivered to my front stoop by Wegman’s, or sitting on my sofa drinking beer from Drizly and eating takeout to support my local eateries, or taking my dogs for a masked walk around the block, or hanging out watching Netflix with my family. So, who’s really been contributing to all the hysteria these days? As a Liberal I can confidently say it’s not me. OK, well…yes… I did just write this article, so… (insert shrugged shoulders emoji here.)