I’m concerned as well at the confused and confusing messaging we’ve consistently gotten from our leaders. Though leadership groups have public health experts in their midst, it’s hard to say how much sway true experts have had, outnumbered and outranked by politicians with little or no science background. Politicos are in the business of pleasing the electorate; when an intransigent but major fraction of the electorate are convinced that science is fraudulent, closing schools and businesses, along with masking, testing and vaccines may not play well with that crowd. Our armamentarium is small enough; our messages should be consistent.
In a way, we might have been further ahead if the virus had been more rather than less infectious. If every second or every third person had come down with illness straightaway, rather than something in the order of every twentieth person, it might have impelled more robust support for mandatory measures that could have abridged our pandemic misery.
Compared with other global assaults – the recent subprime mortgage debacle or the Great Depression – our pandemic has left equity markets in reasonable shape, buoyed as they’ve been by governmental spending of mammoth proportions. I’m not faulting this; it’s one of the things we’ve done right. We’re butting up against problems here too, however. The wells must be close to running dry, and no one knows what to do with the debt involved, especially anticipating further waves of lockdown.
The markets are poised to resume growth mode, given pent up demand and relief from the impositions of the virus, a sort of goldilocks or wishful-thinking scenario that may or may not pan out. The buzz at the time of writing has to do with a new and more infectious variant of the preceding virus that may upstage anything we’ve seen so far. We’re in an economic and an existential no man’s land at the moment. Our stance is precarious: we’re walking a tightrope across a canyon, and the weather may be turning.
Perhaps the biggest irony has to do with what we know of the virus. Not that many years ago we had little enthusiasm for Charles Darwin and evolution, certainly regarding its pertinence to us. Now our lives quite literally depend on coronavirus mutation and whatever accompanying illness is next.
There is much we’d rather not know. I’m not surprised to hear that school boards are burning books again. Our abilities regarding denial are extreme. We should more properly be called Homo irrationalis (or something close; my Latin’s rusty). There is little that is sapient or wise about us.
So, what to do? Have our individual and collective futures ever looked this uncertain, this frightening?
Here’s the best advice available in tough spots:
Do the next thing that needs to be done. Then do the next thing after that. Certainly, check the rigging, whatever, but mostly carry on … one foot in front of the other. Repeat.
Small solace, perhaps, but remember – we’re in wartime.
Do the right thing.
Editor’s note: The views, perspectives and opinions in this article are solely the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of the AMA.
Banner image credit: Pixabay.com