I don’t know what to make of the current state of things regarding the Coronavirus. On one hand, I understand the concern and trying to slow the spread of the virus so that too many people don’t get sick at once and overwhelm the healthcare system. That makes some sense in the short term.
On the other hand, this virus, like every other virus before it, is now a part of our normal. Measles, Chicken Pox, Polio, the common flu, H1N1, Sars, none of these things have completely gone away. We have vaccines for some of them, but they haven’t gone away. In Los Angeles there have been multiple stories over the last year or so about outbreaks of Typhus among the homeless population, that’s something that’s preventable, kind of medieval, and they didn’t seem to be too interested in doing too much about that. But now, now, they’re talking about ways to get the homeless off the streets. So, there are some things about some of the “reaction” by the media and city governments, I guess, that don’t make a lot of sense to me.
People are supposed to be social distancing. For the last week, people have been jamming themselves in grocery stores in huge numbers. When I did my regular shopping, I had to go to four different stores, because of people panic buying and hoarding, just to get what I would normally buy. I’m sure that was the situation for a lot of people. So instead of going to one or two stores to do their shopping as they normally would, people were going to all different kinds of stores, having contact with far more people than they normally would. Then I saw videos of people returning from Europe, jammed into O’Hare airport waiting to go through customs, and people freaking out about it being a human Petri dish and there being little to no hand sanitizer and how this is the government’s fault. All those people who were jammed together in the airport, they all just got off the same airplanes where they all were in an enclosed, confined, space, so they’d already all been exposed to each other. This, however, brings up a couple of interesting points about our countries borders, and the unrestricted flow of peoples in and out of this country. New inhabits, or, immigrants, used to have to funnel through Ellis Island for a reason, or reasons, one of which was health screening. Really. Now, that probably makes understandable sense to a lot more people. It isn’t racist, it’s common sense. Perhaps more people will be able to see and understand that now as countries around the world close their borders to anyone who isn’t a citizen of that country. How interesting is that, because on the current Census they decided that asking people if they were U.S. Citizens would be racist, or, I don’t know what really. Canada has closed its borders to all non-citizens. Something else that doesn’t quite make sense to me, understanding that the elderly are more vulnerable to this virus and telling the elderly to stay home, but then telling everyone to stay home, so as not to infect the elderly… who aren’t out and about or shouldn’t be… so if they’re not out and about, how would anyone who is… have contact with them? I think the reaction by some officials is somewhat panicked and not thought through as well.
The thing is, there are small businesses that if they shut down for even two weeks, they may never get back on their feet again. And while certainly, I think it’s better to err on the side of caution, there is another danger in this situation as well, and that is that if it turns out that the powers that be were crying wolf about this virus in some regard, the “public” will never believe them about anything like this again. On some level, it’s difficult not to think that the closing of so many businesses, albeit allegedly temporarily, isn’t something of an over-reaction, the implementation of such controls is tantamount to telling people that they cannot be relied upon to make decisions for themselves, that they are not free adults. The fallout from lost jobs, closed businesses, and so on, might be far more devastating and difficult for the country to recover from than the virus itself. Of course, it could all completely blow over in a couple of weeks and everything could be just fine. I made another trip to the store yesterday and while certain items were still temporarily sold out, other things had been restocked. There was an abundance of paper towels again, so many in fact that people seemed to be confused by it, not knowing which to buy because they suddenly had a choice again.
My take away from this so far is in how quickly people panicked, there are a lot of lessons in that for the intelligent person to disseminate. I’m also looking at how I use common every day items, and thinking of ways to stretch supplies farther and be less wasteful, even after things go back to “normal,” whatever that will mean after this. Crises often create focus as to what is really important in general and on a personal level. Having lived with chronic illness for quite some years, I’m not exactly unfamiliar with that process of the narrowing of priorities and the creation of a clear focus on what matters to me. I do know that if things quickly return to “normal” there will be many who will roll on with their lives as though this never happened, they’ll be back in the hair salon or the gym in a week and perhaps they are blessed to be that way, perhaps it such that saves the world. I mean that sincerely. But, the sensitive creature that I am, I am often affected and changed by things that change my level of awareness. This situation is as yet unfolding. So, I guess we’ll all see what happens and how things shake out.
I’m reminded of something I wrote about freedom from worry, that the things that come along that happen are seldom the things that keep us, or kept us, awake at night with worry. I can assure you that “pandemic” and people hoarding toilet paper and being told to “shelter in place” was nowhere on the list of things I was worried about. I started to think about the things I would miss of life as we know it if it were to all change completely, and I bought some donuts today. That got me thinking about how much I used to enjoy a stroll around the local five and ten cent store, a cup of coffee at the Woolworth’s Luncheonette counter, and how I’d have savored that a little longer had I known it would be gone.
Peace and love.