Minnesota is still in the midst of a pandemic, with peak illness and deaths expected to happen in June!
People are at their worst during times of change. They are confused, emotional, angry, upset, fearful – they are driven by emotions not rational thinking. All of us experience this.
For some of us the pandemic has brought on fearful anxiety at the thought of contracting the virus and dying. This emotional state creates anxiety every time they see someone disregarding the rules they’ve been given to stay safe. They react with anger when individuals resist these safety measures. Other individuals have a different reaction. The idea of something beyond their control is too painful for them and they respond with denial, refusing to believe that anything is going to happen, refusing to take basic safety precautions because to do so creates the possibility in their minds that they might actually get sick, or worse die. Most of us are somewhere in between these two extremes, understanding that during times of crisis we must respond, we must take action, we must try to keep our family safe even while knowing we do not control everything.
Knowing that people are emotional during crisis and change, can help us understand why other people are reacting the way they are reacting. We can learn to have compassion for either extreme, understanding the anxiety and fear that underlie both sets of belief.
Compassion is an important word, one which we must learn to embrace more fully. Most people I know are not bad people, in fact I don’t personally know anyone who actually wish harm on others. I’m sure people like that exist, I’m not naïve, but they are a small percentage of our population here in Wright County. Most people are good. Learning to embrace diversity and to understand why people are reacting the way they are reacting is critical during these times.
It is the only way we stay civilized.
Along with compassion we also need to trust our experts. It’s not that experts are never wrong, but they still provide us with informed ideas that lead to better results. For instance, at one point in time in human history doctors believed they couldn’t transmit disease by the touch of their hands. Today we know that isn’t true. (I know you wouldn’t into surgery knowing your doctor had just handled a massive infection in another person and hadn’t washed his/her hands.) We must trust our cumulative knowledge and continue to learn from our mistakes.
During a pandemic, we need to listen to conventional words of wisdom and our experts and respond with appropriate actions. We may later learn that these actions or ideas were incomplete, but this is how humans learn. We test a belief and we learn from it. We would never have developed our modern-day conveniences like plumbing or electricity without this method of learning. It has served us well and we should not give up on it.
This is why now is not the time to walk away from what the experts are saying about the virus. We are still seeing increasing numbers of sick and dying. We are still in the midst of a pandemic. Indeed, a recent study done by researchers at Imperial College London indicate that Minnesota is in the top ten of states which will see increasing virus numbers. The truth is, Minnesota has not seen the end of the pandemic. Over the next month or two our numbers will swell. Now is not the time to lower our guard.
While there is a strong desire to “open up” our community for summer, it is the wrong time for us to do this. Just as you wouldn’t assume business to be normal during war, it isn’t normal during a pandemic. Opening up now will not create a safe environment, it will cause more death and harm. Is enjoying summer worth that? After all, summer will come again next year.