By Mary O’Brien, M.D.
Enough. Enough with the panic, paranoia, and power grabs. Enough with the hysteria, hoarding, and hyperbole. Enough with the melodramatic funeral music between commercial breaks on TV. Fear, malaise, and resignation cannot become a permanent feature of life. This is not the end of the world, and this must not be tolerated as the “new normal.”
One of the most effective antidotes to fear is perspective. Many of us had loved ones who endured far worse situations during the Spanish Influenza of 1918. In those days, there were no ventilators or even the ability to deliver nasal oxygen. There were no ICUs, cardiac monitors, or even TVs. Antibiotics, antivirals, bronchodilators, anti-inflammatory medications, and corticosteroids did not exist. There was no such thing as a Respiratory Therapist. It was bleak.
Ten years later, during the beginning of the Great Depression, socio-economic conditions were equally bleak. There were no social safety nets. Social Security, unemployment Insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, food assistance, personal and small business rescue programs were nonexistent. Soup kitchens and bread lines were the measures of last resort.
There is another major difference between the present day and 1918, and it revolves around the media. In 1918, people had newspapers. Radio was in its infancy. There were no narcissistic TV “personalities” promoting an agenda 24 hours a day. Enough is enough. We don’t need any more people in the media selling panic for profit. We need facts. We need reason. We need sensible, constructive solutions to a serious, infectious disease. But we cannot sit on our hands for 18 months when a vaccine may or may not save the day.
Anyone telling us we have no choice but to lock down everything is misguided. We always have choices. Life constantly presents us with potential risks and benefits. People can learn how to function with reasonable safety once they have the facts. We are not helpless, clueless children who must be grounded “for our own good.”
Death is a certainty at some point — for each of us. It always has been. What matters is living a life that is good, honorable, and uplifting to others. We are told no one should determine who lives and who dies. Yet politicians and bureaucrats proclaim which “workers” (a Marxist term) are essential and which ones are not. That reflects a stunning level of arrogance. The only “non-essential” job or business is the one you didn’t pour your heart and soul into. A handful of officials (where jobs, paychecks, and pensions are secure) is destroying the lives and futures of tens of millions of other people.
We’ve learned how to cope with tuberculosis and terrorism, the Great Dust Bowl and diphtheria, threats of nuclear war, and natural disasters. We’ll learn how to cope with COVID-19, not through fear, not through paralysis, but through prudent, innovative, courageous action. Enough with the panic.
Let’s get on with it.