There is no doubt about it, saying that “things are difficult” right now, is probably the trite understatement of the decade…
Even the use of that now common terminology, which is fast becoming a tired trope so favoured by The MSM and politicians; “these are unprecedented times” – no shit?
One of the first things to consider here, with a realistic and pragmatic head on, is; many of the ‘difficulties’ that we currently face are not specifically caused by the virus itself.
Yes, the vast majority of impacts (so far) are medical and social factors. Many people have and will continue to contract the bug and possibly for some time yet. The subsequent mortality statistics, connected with covid-19 are frightening for many, particularly for those people within the high risk categories.
In my opinion, this constant picking over these numbers by the MSM is probably impacting upon people’s anxiety.and is unhelpful. At the very least, the prominent media methodology is likely fuelling the bonfires of future mental-health impacts for our society. Problems that will need support from an already stretched or inadequate mental-health support and treatment system.
The number of people who have contracted coronavirus and subsequently died is not insignificant, by any stretch of the imagination however; without belittlement or detracting from the worrying statistics, it is worth remembering that (in the UK), an average of around 17,000 people die annually from influenza related conditions and impacts. (See BBC Understanding the Death Toll). Yes, we need to do all we can, as a society, to minimise the loss of life however; I can’t help but conclude, much of the criticisms currently aimed at the Government are based in antagonistic journalism and political ideology. Rather than science and logic.
You can find continually updated statistical information in the following links;
Many thousands of people, who may not have died prior to contracting the Covid-19 virus, are sadly dying and right across the world. Unfortunately, many more will succumb to the virulent nature of this infection. Some nations are experiencing higher death rates than others and for all manner of reasons, whilst others have (so far) escaped some of the worst mortality rates but, for how long?
One thing I have noticed, within some quarters there are people who find it very easy to lay blame at the door of their National administrations, often unjustifiably.
The spread of covid-19, and the efficacy of any subsequent response, is (mostly) oblivious to politics. Casting blame, based in political reasoning as opposed to science, is trite. Especially when so much of the individual and group rhetoric appears to lack context and (non-partisan) underlying demography factors. But that’s the nature of some people, fired-up by their media consumption I suppose?
However sad the facts, almost all the issues we face are born in the fact, we have little or no past knowledge or experiences to draw upon. How can it be possible to deal with something that is creating profoundly negative outcomes, for so many and so quickly? Especially when what we face and the situations we are witnessing are ‘unprecedented’ and (arguably) almost unimaginable. One prominent question for many is… was this really so unexpected? Perhaps not.
Fear of the Unknown
Irrespective of the widespread health dangers that are undoubtedly presented by the coronavirous pandemic; many of our additional and specific problems are actually born in our fear of the unknown.
Fear is something that naturally presents psychological impacts, it has a tendency to both build and increase our anxiety – when we let it – however; as Epictetus, one of the great Ancient Greek Philosophers espoused – “People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.” But again, a great deal of this fear is perpetuated and compounded because of current media methodology.
Change & Discomfort
Yes, for many of us now, the way we live our life has changed significantly. Our new routines are almost unrecognisable, especially if/when we base that ‘normality’ on any of our past experiences. Coronavirus has left us all dealing with situations that most of us would never have perceived as possible twelve months ago. Much of what we experience and witness now was unthinkable, prior to Covid-19. Our new normality is not normal.
There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time. (Malcolm X)
Positivity in Change
It’s always helpful to look upon any change as your latest learning opportunity. As Confucius is often quoted – “He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.”
We can all take some learning from the problems and difficulties that we are currently facing. It would be puerile if we chose not to do so.. To my mind, and the thinking of many sage philosophers in the past, there is nearly always some ‘value’ to be found in any ‘shitstorm’ – when we choose to look for it.
Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity. (Aristotle)
To paraphrase Michelle Obama, the former First Lady of America; there is no ‘point in viewing “challenges as a disadvantage” because usually, there is often far more ‘value’ to be found in trying to understand the experience and (hopefully), we come to realise that “overcoming adversity is actually one of our biggest advantages.” And, as Epictetus also told us; “No man is free who is not master of himself” and – we can all control or at the very least, adjust how we are thinking.
There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will. (Epictetus)
Some Covid-19 Lessons (so far)
The lessons that we can or should be learning [from the coronavirus pandemic] are constantly changing. As with life itself, we are in a dynamic state of constant flux.
Changes to our beliefs and (importantly) our subsequent behaviours, in any given set of circumstances, should always be; rational, logical, appropriate, flexible and measured but also, subject to change, as we learn more. Our thinking (and the response) should be formulated around what we know as facts, about what is occurring, or has actually occurred… not what we think might happen.
Yes, given sufficient expertise and knowledge (which many of us don’t actually posses), sometimes we are able to predict stuff that might happen. But again, how many of those predictions are based in logic and science? Are those expectations arrived at from a rational and science-based perspective? More importantly, how confident are we that what we want to change (effectively) is a realistic expectation? Can we change the things we have no control over? No, we can’t. Do we actually need to try and mitigate against something that may or may not occur, irrespective of whatever action or inaction we decide upon? Possibly.
The efficacy of any response to a ‘National Emergency’, is usually best handled by thoser people with the appropriate expertise in appropriate fields. Those people that are (hopefully, usually & mostly) far more qualified and experienced than the remainder of us. All we really need to know is; are their decisions being made appropriately? Are those decisions and actions taken with the needs of our society in mind (they are mostly) or, are decisions being made to benefit an individual? If so, challenging them is appropriate. These questions ring true for everyone, from top to bottom of our society, irrespective of where you happen to sit in the social pile.
If, as a society we are content to place people in positions of trust, to do what is correct at the right time and in a manner that is proportionate to the circumstances, why do we then seek to constantly undermine their efforts?
OK, as I’ve already pointed out, challenge is always a good thing. Every ‘expert’ can benefit from having their work reviewed by their peers however; when that challenge descends to little more than vitriolic opinion, based in emotions and political ideology, or is based on false information (accidentally or intentionally), how can that process be helpful? Let alone conducive to actually dealing with the difficulties of the shitstorm?
We are all entitled to our opinions and personal feelings (or should be) however; science and logic must prevail, emotions, politics and journalistic opinion, even if they are dressed up as ‘challenge’ aren’t very helpful. Sadly, the traits of objectivity and rationalisation aren’t too evident within our society. And this inadequacy or failing in our society often finds roots in the quagmire of social-media.
Tabloid Journalism, which is sadly no longer confined to the medium, also needs to take responsibility, for many of the additional social problems we are currently experiencing (e.g. panic buying etc).
Our society is constantly being spoon-fed daily meals of easily digested journalistically-modified titbits of information. This produce is expertly prepared and proficiently served-up at the MSM table, with all the commercial benefits of adept customer service in mind. But importantly, this process is also delivering some profoundly negative impacts for our society. We all need to limit and question what we actually consume in our diet, if we want to improve our mental-health.
In many areas of thinking it appears to me that our overall cognitive ability has been and still is being diluted. Many people seem unable to read past the emotive headlines. They are unable to ignore questionable and sensational journalistic content. We tend not to be very good at thinking for ourselves any more, always assuming that was ever the case.
Conclusions (So Far)
Thankfully, my initial experiences of the Covid-19 situation have served to provide more evidence, not that I really needed additional confirmation that, in adverse times, the good in people usually prevails. Yes, the not so nice will always seize upon every opportunity to further their own purpose however; those types are always evident. Irrespective of any prevailing circumstances or events.
Despite all our requirements for income and a means of feeding ourselves and family, or keeping a roof over our heads, I think many people are beginning to see that; the most important things in our life are not (and shouldn’t be) monetary or materialistic. How long this new-found ethos continues will remain to be seen. But again, to apply logical rationalisation, the things we actually ‘need’ were simply explained and demonstrated by Abraham Maslow, in his Hierarchy of Needs.
Additionally, the ancient philosophies of Stoicism, Taoism, Buddhism and even some of those more mainstream theological tenets also tell us; anything more is usually greed or not actually required… to live a reasonably content and fulfilled life. Now regular visitors here will know, i’m no advocate of religious teachings however; if these ideologies have survived and been followed for so many centuries you have to ask… can they all be so wrong?
We still have some way to go before this shitstorm comes to an end. We probably still have many difficulties and emotionally challenging situations to deal with We still have much to learn, about ourselves, our systems and what we actually want from life itself. Whether we chose to learn the lessons that are available to us, is a whole different ball-game. I feel sure I will be revisiting these troubling times again… before we come out the other side!
We are learning but, how long will we remember that which we have learned?
And, by way of one final valid observation…
Until the next instalment… Stay Safe, Stay Well and Stay Positive!