For the weekend…
from Douglas E. Welch
Issue 4: December 31, 2021
Acceptance vs. Arrogance
There is a constant theme to this pandemic — get back to normal.
While this is indeed a great future goal, when we are in the midst of a crisis like COVID-19, it can also be a great hindrance to ending it. Focusing on getting back to normal fools us into believing we can return to normal right now — this moment — this day.
Here is where the damage occurs. By trying to get back to normal, we start acting with — what I have termed — an all-too-human arrogance.
We try to keep doing everything that normalcy means to us. We hold large parties. We go shopping and go to the theater. We push professional sports back into session. We are going to do whatever we want, whenever we want, and nothing is going to stop us!
Even worse, through our misguided attempts at normalcy, many of us refuse to wear the all-too-visible reminders of our situation — masks. We see them as a flag of surrender instead of the protectors they can be. The same can be said of vaccines. We don’t want to NEED the vaccines, so we find ways of dismissing or demonizing them. At worst, our arrogance can lead us to foolishly believe that there is no problem at all and try to ignore it.
An infinite loop
This arrogance has led us to this seemingly infinite loop of…
- We have a problem
- Here is what we need to do
- Do it, for a short time
- Ah, we are getting better
- Stop using protection
We want to believe too much. We want to believe it is beaten before we have TRULY beaten it. Over and over and over.
We need to curb our arrogance even while we work towards our goal. We need to see where we have won, where we have lost, and where we have tied — daily — and not get ahead of ourselves. Each time we push too hard, we start the loop all over again.
For me, the only stat that matters is the daily number of COVID-19 infections and the 7-day running average. These directly indicate where we are headed and what we need to do. This average directly presages the sickness, hospitalizations, and deaths to follow. When infections begin to rise, we need to continue and increase our, by now, well-known protocols. Isolate, avoid large groups of people, mask up, and vaccinate.
I make decisions every day using this statistic. Should I go to the grocery or order delivery? Should I visit with our friends up the street or do we return to Zoom calls? How can I do those things I want while avoiding other humans?
Sometimes I have to make harder decisions. We have had a couple of situations during COVID that required us to go places and be near others. Paperwork had to be signed or notarized. Roofs needed replacing. Money had to be deposited in person. For those, I used every protection available. I moved around the timing, the location, the number of people involved. I did — and will continue to do — whatever it takes to keep myself and others safe.
Will we conquer this virus? Of course, we have faced others in the past and have established a coexistence, if not a complete conquest. If we continue to be creative and scientific anything is possible.
But, we must curb the lesser angels of our nature — like our arrogance — and be deeply aware of the difference between what exists and what we wish to exist.
Normal is a continuum, not a steady-state. Each day, we must look at the statistics, look at the actions we can take, and do what needs to be done, no matter how much we might hate it. No matter how much it might rub up against our human arrogance. We must accept our current state while still striving for a better one. Making decisions out of arrogance will surely keep us mired in this pandemic — and any future crises — much longer than necessary.
I’d love to hear your thoughts!