March 13th, 2020 was the day the Covid19 virus officially became a pandemic. Schools closed immediately with little notice to children, parents, or teachers. We are in our seventh week of staying at home except for occasional food or essentials shopping trips. I’m one of millions of sewers making masks. I do this because I am able and because it feels like something helpful and worthwhile during a time that I feel anxious most days. Wearing even a fabric handmade mask feels comforting even though we know they are not the best form of protection.
This virus is new and scientists are doing what scientists do – they are studying and researching and testing to discover what makes it tick. Unfortunately, a few months of research does not provide enough understanding to develop vaccines or cures. This much is known: It is highly contagious and spreading fastest when large groups of people are in close proximity to one another. Therefore, staying at home is wise. It’s not good for the economy though. But neither is masses dying in a short period of time.
People everywhere are exhausted and tired of staying home. We all want to return to some sense of normal. The economy is suffering greatly and business owners are going broke. Which means much of the population is also going broke. So, what are our options? Get mad? Say, ‘Screw it! I’m not wearing a mask! I’m done with this nonsense!’ Protest and call it ‘marshal law?’ Ignore all the experts’ advice? Believe it’s all a hoax?
I’m seeing people do all those things and it is extremely disturbing. Listening to a president who suggests bazaar made-up treatments/cures, like injecting disinfectants to ‘clean’ the insides of a sick person is terrifying. It’s terrifying because people need something to cling to and some will believe the mad man’s insane ravings. Please don’t.
Since March 13th our world and society as we know it has vanished. Are these the end times? Some choose to believe it is. Some of those same people are complaining a lot about hoaxes and fake news. I do wonder if they truly believe God created Fox News as the only truth they can trust. It really boils down to folks wanting to believe something so badly, they align themselves with a source that agrees with their bias – confirmation bias. It’s natural and we all have one. The trick is to recognize it and notice when you feel it. Here’s an example: People deeply want to believe this virus is nothing but the flu, is not nearly as contagious as we’ve been told, or is purely a hoax, voila! Lucky for them their news source of choice just confirmed it!
But there are indisputable facts. This is a brand new virus, undiscovered till recently, with unknown characteristics. It’s not ‘just the flu.’ This thing causes its victims to essentially suffocate and die alone. But the unknowns are many: Is the incubation period truly 14 days? Is it an airborne disease? Is it possible that some of our immune systems already know how to beat it? Is ‘herd immunity’ occurring? We just don’t know because it’s too early to tell.
Confirmation bias is innate and in all of us. God gave each of us a brain to critically examine information. Some of us are more inclined than others to practice critical thinking. It’s natural for each of us to lean toward information that aligns with our desires and beliefs. It also boils down to living in denial, ironically. Deny all truths that do not agree with our beliefs, even if it isn’t logical because it makes us feel better. Don’t we all want to feel better? It’s not helpful though, in the long run. Especially when it divides groups of people, even family and friends. Pointing fingers at each other when we disagree and shouting ‘fake news’ will get society nowhere fast.
I’m tired of all this too. We all are. Like it or not, we ARE all in this together. We are in it for the long haul, until we understand more about this virus and its characteristic behavior. Listen to the experts. Stay home. Wear a mask when you’re not home. These are ways we can express love and show respect for one another. To not shake hands, to not hug right now, these are not signs of fear, they are signs of caring for others. Let’s do that. Let’s care more for each other while taking care of ourselves. And remember to breathe and look up.