A COVID19 lament.
The year is 2020. The date is early May. I’m just hanging-out here in the middle.
I’m in the middle of learning a new type of working from home, not like any I’ve ever done before. I’m in the middle of knowing that I’m privileged to be able to work from home. I’m in the middle of a group of friends with varying positions on COVID19, most of whom seem to not be in the middle.
Life seemed easier when I could decide what is right and wrong based on clear facts, strong moral positions, and what’s best for my family and I. For example:
Vaccines — I believe that There is enough good science and evidence to support that vaccines are safer for most people than no vaccines. Vaccinating my children is a risk I have chosen over an alternative risk based on measured odds and outcomes. It is not a risk-free decision but I accept that risk.
Immigration — God doesn’t see political boundaries as an acceptable excuse to fail to love your neighbor. I shouldn’t either.
Liberty — If I decide to own a gun or consume marijuana, I should be allowed to make those decisions without interference from a governing authority. I am not free to take other’s lives.
I don’t see the conflict in those positions, they are the same to me. Those are positions based on fact, strong moral positions, and what’s best for my family and I.
Making a decision about COVID19 has been VERY different.
Do I care about the economy?
YES, YES I DO! My friend is laid-off of work and he and his family are living with us right now. There’s 10 people in my house. I see the pain on his face and together we experience the tangible fear in his children’s expressed anxiety. Eventually this could even cost me my job and livelihood, just not today.
Do I care about loved ones dying?
YES, YES I DO! My wife has an autoimmune disease that’s treated with powerful chemotherapy and immunosuppressive drugs. In 2009 she contracted H1N1 (Swine Flu) and due to her condition, this led to her contracting acute pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). She spent a month in the ICU in a coma and barely survived. I do not want to lose my wife. I never again want to experience the horror of telling my sons that their mom might not come home.
Do I care about the erosion of liberty by well-seeming but possibly nefarious power grabs, taking advantage of a pandemic to dilute freedom?
YES, YES I DO! I’m not wearing a tinfoil hat. I don’t believe in chem trails. I support basic vaccines despite my 16-year-old son and his autism diagnosis. However, it’s hard to ignore what looks like a movement in a frightening direction. It’s difficult not to see parallels from the last 1000 years of political history.
— — —
I am the guy who gives others the extreme benefit of the doubt. I’m the one to whom people remark things like “I wish I could see other people the way you do, you always see the best in others”. That is part of what makes this so hard.
I’m stuck in the middle. Are you?
WHAT ARE THE TRUE FACTS?
HOW DO I MAKE A REAL DECISION?
Medical experts and scientists disagree. Political experts and historians disagree. There seems to be some consensus (is there?) — it seems like maybe distancing and wearing masks might help. Or does it? Is it worth the cost? How many people will die of starvation due to economic collapse? Is that a real fear? Economists disagree too! Every day a new “expert” emerges!
How do my friends on the “There is no virus, we should rebel!” side justify what appears to be extreme self-righteousness? How do they justify the cost if they’re wrong?
How do my friends on the “We should all stay inside for the next 18 months and wear masks even around family members in the same house!” — side — justify what appears to be extreme self-righteousness? How do they justify the cost if they’re wrong?
How are they SO SURE that they’re right? These are the same people I love and respect for so many reasons. They’re smart, reasonable, and loving people; they’re not tinfoil hat people. They too have jobs at risk, children at risk, and loved-ones at risk just like I do. How can they be SO SURE that they’re right when they take these positions? So sure that they protest or cast votes over it? So sure that they make significant behavioral decisions for themselves and their kids over it?
I wish I could be so sure, but I’m stuck in the middle. I’m worried about what my kids are learning right now — about me — about the world.
Can I find community with you, in the middle? Can we form a consensus, at least, of anxiety and hope? Can we form a city of love and respect?
Join me in the middle. We are the “wait and see”. We are the “doing the best we can with what we have, until we know more”.