Of two minds. Or maybe three.

Maybe it’s the moderate in me, but I tend to be of two minds about things I see people say on social media.

Example 1: people express (without comment in what sense) that they are “more afraid of my rights being infringed upon, than of the coronavirus,”

Yes and No.

No: If by this someone means, coronavirus social distancing restrictions are impeding their freedoms too much. Hard disagree.

These restrictions were put in place to save lives. Lifting them before it’s safe to do that, is just going to mean more unnecessary deaths and a lot of people having suffered hardships for nothing – and it’s going to extend how long we need to do this in total.

If we could have got by with them as just ‘suggestions’ they would be, but people didn’t listen and didn’t take them seriously until they were mandated. Now that they’re working, we need to stay the course a bit longer. If we keep the trend moving down, we can move from crisis to testing & tracking, and then we can look at next steps.

When we have robust enough testing so we can identify who’s sick before they’re symptomatic and enough capacity to do contact tracking — so that we only have to quarantine those who are actively infectious (not just the actively sick), we’ll all be so happy to return to more normal interactions. Until then, our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is being focused on the life part of the equation. Your life, and the lives of people around you. Stay the course, stay strong, stay home.

Three people who said this better:

  • The apostle Paul: Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Also worth a listen:

Yes: If by this someone means, the ways in which the virus interrupts our processes and that someone might misuse that for their good rather than ours — when the virus and related shutdown threatens the USPS (who is among the largest employers and serves literally every person and business in this nation, and yet somehow can’t get any of the support other industries are receiving but instead are threatened by being privatized), and/or the ability of states to manage ballot-based voting, voter registrations, and polling facilities, and who might opt to take advantage of that to prevent voting (especially of people who might not vote to keep them in power) – yes, these are all ways in which “the virus” could be used to undermine our rights as Americans and I think we should be concerned.

[External: privatizing USPS here and here.]

[Also the USPS closes the gap to ensure people in rural areas have the same access as those in cities where it would not be “fiscally viable” for a private firm to serve those communities; a problem not resolved digitally. The Indicator – Coronavirus and the Digital Divide]

(PS if you’re not concerned by that, that is fine. But if the reason you aren’t concerned is based on your political party, if you would be more concerned about whether voting rights will be impacted if the “other party” were in charge but are not concerned because “your party” – or worse, “your person” – is in political power at present, you want to be very careful there, because wrong is wrong no matter who does it. Who is in power changes, and precedent matters. Personally, I’d like America to keep being America and to keep striving toward its own best principles in the future, and we don’t get there if the powers that be spend all their power acquiring more for themselves. Power corrupts. It corrupts even good & God-fearing people, and how much more so those who are, well, not. And again, I am not a Democrat, and I am not Republican-bashing — I don’t think either party is righteous or incorruptible in this area.)

Or, you know, maybe they just mean they are a person of faith, opting not to live in fear in general. Also a good take. Hard agree there.

Example 2… people pointing out that nature is thriving while we’re (people, globally) being still and polluting it less – and this breaking out in a flame war.

I see the accusation but let’s be clear: we are not the virus. But it is also not “eco-fascism” to notice the clear implication that humans impact the planet around us, and what’s more, that impact is not always for the better.

(As a person of faith, I’d note that if the planet is healing or thriving while we are suffering – it shows that God who is good can work good even from terrible things. We live on this planet – we are part of the ecosystem – good for the earth is to our good also.)

I don’t think it’s unreasonable that maybe we could look at how nature is responding to our temporarily changed behavior and realize we could do better. We have not been as good stewards as we could be, of this lovely world. And that it’s to our detriment not to be better in future.

I do think it’s unreasonable to look at the effect but not look at the cost. Yes, we are polluting less. That is good. But a lot of people aren’t working, and that’s not supportable – or desirable for or to them – in the long term. Groceries are harder to come by, because we can’t move products from here to there. In a million ways, large and small, lives are impacted. Also not always for the better.

So again, to my mind: yes and no. We should look at this and acknowledge that humanity’s actions do impact the natural world. We absolutely should take that insight and look for ways to do better in future. – Maybe we could recheck our assumptions about what is really needed, and how we do the things we do. – Maybe we should even count the costs differently. But there are human costs, and human costs should not be excluded in that equation.

I don’t think everything is either/or.

I think sometimes they are both/and. Or none of the above.

Or 25/75. Or 60/40. Or 30/40/30 (because not all choices are binary).

Not all or nothing. Not win or lose. Not us and them.

Thanks for bearing with me for all that. Setting that down and getting it out, can only help me with the low-grade headache I’ve had simmering.

Also IRL I am pretty sure it is someone out there’s birthday. Have a good one!

2 thoughts on “Of two minds. Or maybe three.”

  1. Exactly. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The lack of pollution on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day is (can’t resist) a breath of fresh air. But at the cost of the economy and people’s well-being, is it worth it? I really hope we learn some hard lessons from this crisis.

    It’ll also be interesting to see how the climate is affected by this reduction in pollutants over the coming six months.


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