Some Not Desperate Thinking about Something Dangerous

This is a brand new category in my Author blog, and certainly one that I could not have predicted even six months ago.

Covid-19. The coronavirus.

With the introduction of several of my blog categories, I’ve begun with an Apologia. A justification for my choice to write on the subject. There are a lot of justifications in the case of the coronavirus. For now, I’ll just pick out 3.

  • I own a music school, and like most of the arts in Washington State where I reside, musical activities and opportunities have been severely hindered not only by the coronavirus but by our local government’s response to it.
  • I have dealt with a chronic pain syndrome most of my adult life, and have found, increasingly, a sense of freedom from the desperate thinking that used to dominate my approach to it. But there is something eerily familiar and foreboding to me about the desperation laced into most thinking about coronavirus.
  • Washington State Governor Jay Inslee was quoted by the news media as saying yesterday: “This is somewhat of a challenge for us because the kind of things we have always treated as benign and innocent and healthy, are now dangerous.” That singular comment pushed me into blogging “publicly” about my thoughts for the first time.

One of my musician colleagues referred to Jay’s comment as the “terrorization of everyday life.” That strikes me, for four words, as powerfully thought provoking. We have been told, with an uncanny global homogeneity, to “stay safe.” But there seems to be an unacknowledged and quite ironic flip side. Things that were benign, innocent and healthy have been transformed into threat. Are we considering what we lost? Didn’t we need those benign, innocent and healthy elements of our lives? If we lose them, what is going to be the long-term end result and how is that going to affect us, all virus issues aside?

So now that I have established my Apologia, my reason for writing, what is my goal?

I don’t have just one. My goals are certainly not to convince anyone, at least not in any direct fashion, to think a particular way about Covid-19 or how we handle it as a nation. I think I have –more than goals– a theme and a style. And I think my theme and my style (if I choose to call them that) are so interwoven that it is hard to tease them apart and define them.

Right now the coronavirus “issue” is hugely emblematic of our culture in 2020. The way we talk on social media. The way we react to those who disagree with us. The way our news media creates headlines. The things we value. The things we fear at this point in our cultural history and evolution. The way we are relying massively on high speed internet to justify and soften the blow of government restrictions. I think the coronavirus in 1992 would have been a very different ride.

I’d like to explore these things through the lens of Covid.

I’d like to look at the pandemic with some philosophical distance and patience, eschewing the sense of desperation which has tempted us to demonize those who disagree with us, to put Ends over Means, and to bypass legislative and democratic input on our political response.

Just as I found in my journey with chronic pain, desperation goes hand in hand with control. You could even use the phrase “a desperate need to control.” We are operating under the assumption that we can control coronavirus. I’m not saying we can or we cannot. I’d like to take the time to reflect on that question, and many others. Because I believe our response so far has been rich in desperation and poor in contemplation.

Most objections to social and economic lockdown and restriction are characterized as coming from a less thoughtful, less idealistic place. But I feel like the restrictive “keep everyone safe” mindset is also short on these same things.

So I guess I could characterize my goal here as doing better than both.

I don’t take that lightly. To even attempt the undertaking is not to say I’m wiser than anyone else. It is the method (the style mentioned above) which is the Hero of this story. Stepping back from a problem long enough to make sure one has framed it right. Working patiently to establish the logical foundation of one’s discoveries or arguments before moving along. Recognizing that truth may have to be carefully built out of an initially disorganized constellation of observations. Disallowing any cutting of corners to get to a certain goal or to argue a certain course of action.

And none of that process can work in a mindset choked with desperation. So I pronounce this little category in a blog as officially now a safe space for the undertaking.

One Comments

Leave a Reply