Defeating the Virus

We tend not to believe things we don’t want to believe. For example, most of us believe that when this first wave of the novel coronavirus passes, we’ll be through the worst of it. Of course, we don’t know if that’s true, but that’s what most of us want to believe.

Yes, many doctors say there’ll be a second wave in the fall that could be worse, but they’re basing their predictions on past outbreaks of the flu, which is a different virus from covid-19, This time, things might not happen the same way.

Besides, we’ve made great strides in medicine over the past century. Diseases that decimated our population a hundred years ago won’t kill nearly as many today. That’s just a fact.

So we will eventually all come to the point where we decide to go back to something approaching normal, activities that allow us to make a living if not enjoy the same entertainments we once savored.

And for each of us, for each governor and state, that time may be slightly different. My need to return to work will be different than yours – a reflection of other circumstances, like what our relative savings are and how much fear we possess over catching the disease.

But there will come a time when we will all say, Enough. We’ll return to work, maybe to a different job or a job that’s done in a different way, and we’ll wait to see if we’re going to be safe or not.

Some of us will pray about it; some of us will take greater precautions than others. But very few of us will retreat entirely. At some point, we’ll have to re-engage with the world. And then more of us will die.

A vaccine will likely be available in the next year or so, but even if not, we will ultimately reach herd immunity (where approximately 60 percent of us have been infected so that the virus can no longer spread easily and thus will die off).

So this will pass. And it will leave in its wake maybe a million dead. Or two. But most of us – more than 99 percent of us – will be okay. Scarred, yes, but alive. If the virus kills us, that will be bad. But death comes to us all eventually. We cannot let the virus diminish us.

We need to think like scientists, cautiously testing what we know and what we think we know against new circumstances. Emotions drive us to action. Open up now! Stay closed indefinitely! These feel good in the moment because they reinforce what we want to believe. But they can be dangerous. What we need is the ability to control our emotions with logic and reason. We need to be more like Spock.

Cautious actions are better than rash ones. Thoughtful preparation is key. Adaptability is essential. Despair and fear are negative emotions that tend to trap us into rigidity of thought. We need to break free from that.

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