Remember when you were in elementary school and the teacher said she wouldn’t continue until everyone was quiet? Some teachers would tell everyone to put their heads on the desks to help them be quiet and not look around. Or maybe it was your family in the car playing the quiet game or parents offering rewards, such as, “We’ll stop for ice cream, but only if everyone can be quiet for at least ten minutes straight.”
There was always one (and maybe you were that person) who would disturb the silence too soon. The clock would reset. There would be another delay.
That’s sort of where we are right now as we deal with COVID-19 and try to minimize the spread. There are people who cannot survive it (and they’re not just over 60—but even if they were, our efforts to protect them would be worth the sacrifices we scream as inconvenient). There are people who justify what they “have to” get done even though they could adjust. I acknowledge some of those adjustments would not be convenient or cheap, but if some would lengthen their inconveniences, many others’ inconveniences would be shortened.
You’ve probably heard some of the same responses I have:
“It doesn’t really affect me. I’m not worried about getting sick.” (For the majority of us, it is less about me and more about we—the impact each of our behaviors ripples through others’ lives. Use “I” and “me” less—in your words and in your mind.)
“I am protecting the people I know who are susceptible by not going around them.” (But what about the people you don’t know are susceptible? How will you feel when someone you care about gets sick because of someone’s behavior that could have been avoided? You might be that person who gets someone else sick and never knows it.)
“It hasn’t really impacted where I live (or it’s minimal), so I don’t have to worry about it.” (The less precautions you take now, the wider and longer the effects will spread. And in case you haven’t realized it: the counts only include people who are tested. In many areas, there are limited tests given only under certain circumstances.)
“It’s not really as big of a deal as everyone is making it out to be. The media is just blowing it all out of proportion. I don’t buy it.” (Yes, the media seems to walk a fine line—and often crosses it—of what to report knowledgeably and responsibly and inundating us with confusing messages as we all learn more. But we already know that. It’s nothing new. It doesn’t mean we can’t see the truth in what the media says, apply what is wise to apply, and approach pieces of information with caution. But to claim the media is irresponsible in their reporting then to respond with irresponsibly is ridiculous.)
We’re still figuring this out. People are making tough decisions. I understand the anxiousness to move forward. But could we cooperate and keep our heads on our desks long enough to begin to move on and tackle the next problem while keeping our friends, family, and neighbors healthy?