Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Monday, April 20, 2020

More Monday Musings

Posted by: Rick

It is Monday again. If you've been reading this blog, you know what the normal routine is, so I won't go into that again. No, this Monday I want to share some thoughts about how people are reacting to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, a quick summary of the past week. We went shopping once. That is now an average of going out for shopping about every 9-10 days. Pretty good, I think. And, we did take the dogs for a walk somewhere other than the neighborhood. That was yesterday, and it was crazy! A trail along the Poudre river that is usually very sparsely used was crowded with bikers, dog walkers, kids on bikes, skates and skateboards! It was not fun nor easy to walk the dogs, so we gave up after a while. We've been eating well out of the freezer and pantry. And, I've tried a couple of new bread making techniques, which have had mixed success.

From being out a few times over the past few weeks, from listening to the news from a variety of sources, and from reading some interesting social media posts, I've come to the conclusion that there is an interesting spectrum of people and their behaviors. There are compliers, deniers, and haters.

And, there is a spectrum within these categories, probably at a much finer level than I've thought about.

For example, there are the compliers that believe the science and the credible people who represent and communicate the science. They willingly comply with CDC guidelines and governmental orders. These also tend to be the people who are most compassionate, helping others out as much as possible and being optimistic and respectful in their communications.

I think there is another set of compliers that I'd call the skeptical compliers. They have a healthy skepticism of what they hear and read and take the time to really try and understand the truth. They interpret guidelines and orders in a pragmatic way and adapt them to their own situation. Still, for the most part they comply. A certain amount of skepticism is healthy and needed in our society, as long as it does not decay into less productive levels of behavior. These folks are also compassionate and helpful. They are open-minded and engage in healthy conversation and debate.

Next, we move into the deniers. I think there are a couple of kinds of deniers, too. There are the respectful deniers who, while they don't necessarily believe in the science and don't feel a need to comply with guidelines and orders, they are respectful to the compliers that do. And, they may even concede on a few points like social distancing. These are the people who are protesting the government's orders to close non-essential businesses, but doing it 6 feet from other protesters while wearing a mask. This is a quiet group of people who mostly express their beliefs through their actions.

A bit further along the spectrum are the outright deniers. These people do not trust nor believe in the science and scientists. They are the people who express their disdain through both actions and words. Because of their lack of understanding of the science, they don't really understand the implications of the pandemic and often compare it to the seasonal flu. They are highly independent, valuing their individual liberties over the good of the community. They seem to be willing to get sick, even die, rather than give in to restrictive guidelines and orders, not understand the implications on others as they overwhelm the health care system and put others at risk.

Another nudge further along the spectrum and we find the haters. These are the people who take their denial to the conspiracy theory level. They have no respect for or compassion towards others. They are mean-spirited and hateful in their communications and actions with others. These are the people who spit on produce in the grocery store. That attack people on social media. Who spout unsupported propoganda. That burn down G5 cell towers. That believe the whole pandemic is a far left-wing conspiracy to take down Donald Trump because the left failed at his impeachment conviction. Come on? Really?

Me? I'm somewhere between a complier and a skeptical complier. I sometimes think maybe we've gone a bit too far with the restrictions in place. On the other hand, I'd rather give up some liberties than put myself and others at risk. I'm willing to trust the science and believe that the restrictions are making a difference and that it would be far, far worse without them in place. But, I'm not going to wear a mask walking the dogs outdoors.

I guess we will never really know how well the current restrictions worked. You can't prove a negative. So, there is no way to know how bad it could have been. Only how bad it was. And, if it is not as bad as originally feared and modelled (which drove the restrictions and mitigated the worst case scenarios), that will feed the deniers and haters who will say "told you so" even though they did not contribute to the success.

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“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.” — Thomas Jefferson

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