It’s been a rough day. I pride myself on keeping a positive attitude. Preparing for the worst while hoping for the best has always been my mantra. When you are prepared, you can overcome most obstacles, and usually a positive attitude will carry those plans further than you expected. Unfortunately though, today is not that day. The dread of being furloughed and potentially out of work long term is starting to sink in. Recently, posts both for and against reopening the country are surfacing. Which side you are on, in many cases, depends on your outlook and life experiences.
I can argue for and against almost anything. One of the benefits and detriments of my personality is that I can see multiple sides of a discussion – always. I completely understand why the country is shut down during Covid 19 – it is an unknown virus with not yet proven outcomes. However, I also completely understand the need to reopen the economy – the unknown outcomes are preventing people from working and providing for their families. The risk versus reward is difficult when there is so much unknown. According to Worldmeters.info/coronavirus, as of today, April 22, 2020 2.6M cases have been reported, or 3.4% of the world’s 7.8B people. The United States has had 829k cases reported, or 0.3% of the US’ 328M people. I know of only one person who tested positive and was been given a clean bill of health after five days of flu like symptoms and strict quarantine.
As of today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 4.4% of the US population is currently unemployed. Unemployment has been linked to increases in depression and anxiety (https://www.iwh.on.ca/summaries/issue-briefing/unemployment-and-mental-health). Personally, I know dozens of people who currently cannot pay for food or housing because their businesses have been shut down, they have been laid off or furloughed.
Do we risk overburdening the health care system with an unknown virus or increases in mental health cases? Is the risk of an illness outweighed by the need for people to take care of their families? Is the fear of an unknown virus worse than the fear of homelessness? Is the fear of a second bubble worse than the fear of a complete economic collapse?
We only know what we know. My Dad once told me, “believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.” It is an adage that has resonated with me from high school through adulthood. We view everything in this world through our individual, personal lenses. My personal biases and past experiences will frame how I view a situation; and my personal experiences are different from everyone else. In this instance, my past experiences of being out of work as a single mom are likely clouding my visibility. Much like when you go to look for your glasses that are on top of your head – you have convinced yourself that they are not there, so you never look. I have convinced myself that paying my bills is an critical factor of life (no one else is going to do it for me, after all). Therefore, the lens with which I view economic impacts is a personal one affecting me and my family. In today’s overwhelming abundance of information, everything you hear or see has been filtered through someone else’s own experiences and biases. Hearing information has an extra filter further clouding the picture. Who can we trust in a world of constantly filtered information? Can we even trust ourselves knowing that we are biased?
Caring about people is inherent. Humans are tribal by nature. The tribe protects us, so we care about the people in it. I care about how Coronavirus is impacting people. I am not advocating for opening everything as though Coronavirus didn’t happen. There is a real fear on both sides, and I do feel for those that have been impacted by this pandemic. I just do not feel for them as much as I feel for my own tribe – my family. To Reopen America, we must be diligent and smart. Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, reopened our beaches last week but is keeping our schools closed. Beaches are open and outdoors. Schools are confined hotbeds of germs even under normal circumstances. I support this fully. It is methodical, specific and tactical and allows for reevaluation if and when needed.
When most people think alike most people are wrong. Group Think is an enemy of progress and freedom. Group Think has led to everything from genocide, to poor business decisions (remember the Internet Bubble Burst?) to bad fashion trends (I’m looking at you low rise jeans). Happily, in the case for Reopening America, we do not have Group Think. In fact, our government was designed with checks and balances to prevent Group Think. But, social media and the media in general has pitted our tribes against each other. The voice of “50% of the world’s population will die” is combated with “25% unemployment is not unreasonable.” Humans are tribal. We want to belong because there is safety in numbers. In the case of Coronavirus though there seems to be all risk and no reward – you either get sick and die or you lose your job and the ability to support your family. Panic and fear emerge because there is no perceived safety. Personally, the risk of contracting the Coronavirus does not outweigh the reward of being able to go back to work and support my family.
We do not have to agree. I am not advocating for a complete rewind. But, I do not believe that keeping US citizens on virtual house arrest is a viable solution. It is not sustainable. We cannot live in fear of the unknown. There are likely many of you that disagree, and that is good. It is ok to disagree with each other because disagreements foster our ability to look at a problem differently. Disagreements force us to view life through a different lens if we are open to seeing it. I welcome your thoughts in the comments. Be safe, be well. Take care of your tribe.