What happened to moderation? The anger, fear, contempt, and belligerence that so many people feel toward those they disagree with about the handling of The Bob seem way too extreme to me. For example, those who desperately want a vaccine are furious with those who say they won’t take it even if offered. Why so scathing? When there is a vaccine, those who want it should get it and those who don’t should have the right to refuse. If you believe in the vaccine, then you are protected whether anyone else gets it or not, so what difference can it make to you what others do? And if you don’t think the vaccine is effective enough to protect you against those who aren’t vaccinated, then why get it?
I don’t care one way or another about a vaccine, certainly not to the point of fighting about it. All I really care about is not being forced — again — into getting a dubious vaccine. I was put into that situation during the swine-flu scare in the 1970s, and it left me (and many others) worse off than if we hadn’t been inoculated. Way more people got sick from the vaccine and even died than from the flu itself. So you can see why I’d be leery of getting a hurriedly concocted and untested vaccine.
But that was just an example of a heated controversy off the top of my head, not necessary what I want get off mind.
There is more anger and fear and coming to blows over opening up businesses again than there seems to be over The Bob itself. Although the current buzz phrase is that “we’re all in this together,” the truth is, we are not. Everyone is coming at this from their own world view, from their own situation. Politicians, leaders, and news media, of course, are trying to spin this in the best possible light to foster their own interests, but so are all of us individuals. A person who is totally isolated in her own home feels differently from one who is snug inside with a loving family. A person who still has an income feels differently from one who has lost their job, can’t get unemployment, and is on the verge of losing their home. A person who continues to read all sorts of publications and listens to all sorts of experts, not just the major media or appointed experts, has a different view from someone who has already made up their mind about what is going on.
And a person in a small town in a small county in a small part of a state with but one confirmed case and an asymptomatic one at that, has an entirely different view of the world than one who is mired in a big city with a huge number of cases. I’m not the only one to see the short-sightedness of a one-size-fits all Bob plan. The tri-county area here is petitioning the state for a variance to the current safer-at-home orders. Considering that these counties are impoverished to begin with, shutting down the economy was really disastrous.
Of course, they had no choice. According to the now discredited models of how many people were going to get sick and how many were going to die even with stay-at-home orders in place, they had to prepare. (I’d heard a rumor that this county had ordered hundreds of beds and had planned to set up an infirmary in the community center since there is no hospital here and the two nearest ones would have had their own problems.) And, to get any sort of help, the cities had to declare an emergency. Later, of course, when the state got in the act to protect those in the major cities, the local folks no longer had a choice. They had to shut everything down and keep it shut down.
Some people here are pleased with the possibility of a variance, others are totally appalled and terrified. It would be nice to see things opened up more and stores back in business, but it won’t make any difference to me. I have nowhere to go, and just because the city might be removing some restrictions, it doesn’t mean I have to go out among people if I think it’s a risk.
One statistic is especially telling. Normally in a year, 75% of deaths are those who are over 65. 80% of the deaths from The Bob are over 65. Most younger people who get The Bob either have no symptoms or who have a few symptoms that don’t cause much damage. The thing is, no one can protect us from everything. And despite what people say, the government’s job is not just to keep us safe. If so, then speed limits even on highways would be considerably below 45 mph, sugar would be a controlled substance rather than a subsidized business, and damaging drugs like statins would be off the market. Not that I want any of those things to happen — there is too much interference in our lives as it is, and if this current situation tells me anything, it’s that ever more interference will be the norm.
And no, I’m not saying to sacrifice the elderly. I am saying protect the elderly. (Or let them protect themselves if they can and want to. A lot of people I know are willing to take a chance on The Bob to have a bit of a life, and that is their perogative.) I am saying let people do what they want. If you don’t like it, you can continue to stay home. Speaking as an elder, I certainly wouldn’t choose to tank an entire economy, either a rather shaky local one or robust global one, just to protect me. I could understand when inundating the hospitals was a possibility, and I could understand when a shortage of ventilators was an issue, but since hospitals around here aren’t overflowing, since makeshift infirmaries aren’t necessary, and since ventilators kill more Bob sufferers than they help, it’s not an issue.
I know some of you are getting angry reading this because it goes against what you believe or who you have chosen to believe. You might even be one of those who think it’s important to be safe at all cost — so be safe. I will, at least to the best of my ability. But if by chance I get sick, well . . . I still wouldn’t choose to penalize the entire town to prevent it.
Most of all, I will be moderate. Someone needs to be.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.