I gotta say.
I was wrong.
Some time back, I commented on the approach of the corona virus and urged calm and less panic. I compared Covid-19 to the effects of H1N1, and apples to apples, H1N1 was probably the more dangerous bug.
They were treated differently too.
And the stark reality of the whole situation is the extraordinary number of emergency room beds anywhere you survey. Complicating that number is the even lesser amount of ventilators required as therapy for people whose breathing is heavily compromised.
Even more serious is the fact that what we know cumulatively as a society is still not enough. We just don’t know enough about whether draconian measures are necessary. We don’t know if they’re enough. There has been a lot of discussion about “flattening the curve” when it comes to fighting the exponential rise of the actual spread of the disease, not just in its reported cases, but in its transmission. There is a lot of good science involved.
But we still just don’t know.
One of the recurring memes is the idea that it is impossible to be overly cautious. But that really isn’t the case. True, if we are under-cautious and we see the death toll rise, we will know the true extent of its strength.
But if we are over-cautious and sit everyone at home at maximum quarantine level, there are entire livelihoods at stake. Local restaurants where we occasionally dine, where our neighbors occasionally dine, and where people just driving around or running through google reviews occasionally dine have lost their occasional diners, and the income to keep the lights on, the doors open, and their employees paid.
People who should be staying home like everyone else is having to go crowd into the unemployment office in contradiction to the CDC advice because the CDC advice has taken away their ability to keep the lights on. So really, there is such a thing as being over-cautious, so please don’t lecture each other.
Really, the reason I’m writing today is because I have seen some real ugliness begin. At first, I saw a lot of people dealing with the coming events with light-hearted meme sharing and idea generation. There are some families I know who have been both public schooling and home schooling families bridging the gap to show their neighbor how to succeed at a truly thankless job of teaching kids things they don’t know that they don’t know.
For real, though, my kids’ teachers are like the Hercules times three of the classroom and I appreciate the work they do all the more now. I’m not scared of teaching my kids and my bride is an incredible school marm. But ladies, we miss your skill and my children miss your hearts.
I’m writing this morning because decisions are being made and maybe it’s the fact that there aren’t any sports to criticize. Maybe it’s the fact that politics isn’t enough of an emotional blood sport. Maybe it’s time to be honest with ourselves about how ugly the human race really can be when we are left to our own devices.
But it really hurts me the way that people wag their heads at the way decisions are made.
Disagreement is fine, as the saying goes in my house.
Well ok, the saying doesn’t “go.”
The phrase bellows up the staircase when my children are fighting over some dumb piece of plastic that has suddenly become impossible to live without.
It’s ok to disagree, but it’s not ok to re-evaluate someone’s worth based off of their choice.
Some people choose for their families. Others choose for social groups, like community centers, community service organizations, churches, and schools.
Some people are choosing for whole municipalities.
Some for entire nations.
And those choices effect us all.
Heavy is the head…
I didn’t know it, but like I said, my family has been well acquainted with “social distancing” for two years now. It is a blow into the soft parts of your emotional nerves when you see a little five-year old boy playing with other kids and have the warm fuzzies because he doesn’t always get to experience the company and competition of his peers. He will turn six at the height of this whole mess and he was supposed to do so surrounded by family and friends. His grandmother, “Oma” was supposed to fly from Germany to spend time and celebrate with us. He has had plans for how epic his party would be. In his head, he’s surrounded by his people.
All of his people.
But we can’t now.
And that’s a choice we have to make. It’s yet another of life’s little joys we have to take away from him for his own good. It’s one more look of excitement that we have to see dim in the back of his mind, look while his chin dips, and watch as his lip quivers.
And because we have taken off every stitch of clothes we wore into the possibly contaminated world outside, sterilized our phones, showered for the second or third time for the day, and washed our raw and cracking hands over and over again, we hold him close and tell him everything is going to be ok.
Because it will.
If someone is talking about social distancing, support them. They might be bravely entering into it, not knowing just how brutal it is when the lonely hits. There have been days in the past few years when I have gone to bed hating myself because I have had to tell my kids “no” about something perfectly normal for everyone else in the world. I have gone to be loathing my heart, wondering if there was some way that I could just be a little stronger and by that strength make life more normal for my kids. And discovering that lack of strength, wondering if I am failing them.
That kind of strength does not exist in the palette of colors with which we paint our days. But the reassurance that I’m just being stupid is harder to come by because I don’t have people directly in my life to tell me I’m doing the right thing.
I have to reach out to people intentionally.
So do you.
Friend, if you are feeling the burden and the lonely. If you are stuck in the house for what seems like interminable time and you are being absolutely merciless to yourself, pick up the phone and call someone. You don’t even have to be super brave and tell someone you’re struggling. If it’s someone you know, they will know.
But if it’s bad, tell someone. Let them know it’s bad and that you need to speak anger, sadness, frustration, self loathing, and fear out so they don’t fester.
Spend some more time with God.
When Hagar was cast out of her admittedly odd family by Abraham, God came to her and promised to protect her. She called Him “the God who sees me.”
And He sees you. He sees all of this.
It wasn’t an abundance of caution He used to care for Hagar and Ishmael. It was and is an abundance of love.
And he is with us through whatever choice we make.
Please be careful.
Make your choices wisely. Not with an abundance of caution, but with an abundance of love.
Deal mercifully with those who make choices that effect you, not with an abundance of logic, but with an abundance of patience.
Deal kindly with those who make choices.
Be kind to yourself.
We need it.
All of us.