You ever meet people who you can tell — that in terms of politics, religion, or other issues — are always trying to decide if you are one of "Us" or one of "Them"? God forbid you turn out to be one of "Them" and not one of "Us" on some pet subject — for you immediately are switched from being a friend to being a foe. Seems in this COVID-19 pandemic, a definite "Us" vs. "Them" phenomena has developed.
If there is one good thing about the coronavirus pandemic — for a lot of us — it's helping us to "keep it real" in terms of deciding what really matters. For some, their experience with the pandemic has not been so much of "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away" in terms of friends and family, but any of the givin’ and takin' has involved paychecks and portfolios. They are rightly upset!
As for me, I'm trying to be happy the coronavirus has just taken my money, and has left me with my life, my friends and my family. Seems maybe, in this version of the "us" versus "them," we're finding out what really matters to different people? Hmm — maybe what some guy a couple thousand years ago once said is true? "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also?”
The coronavirus numbers in the U.S. so far are better than predicted, but fortunately or unfortunately both sides in the quarantine debate can use the current figures to prove their point. Either perspective seems to currently work: either "You idiots overreacted and it's not as bad as you thought" or "Look, compared to what happened in Italy, China and New York — our approach is working!" Sorry to say, but information always seems to depend on perspective.
For example, just one death can be a tragedy, but 10,000 deaths — that's just a statistic. For some people, it won't really matter and they won't really understand until a name and a face are put on the numbers.
Suddenly, the perspective changes if we lose a friend or family member to COVID-19. As a doctor, I'm a little scared. How scared am I? Well, I haven't had to use a laxative in awhile, because COVID-19 could definitely happen to any of us.
Most people believe what they want to believe. We preferentially go looking for "facts" to confirm and back-up our preconceived biases. We have to cut each other some slack though; at least we're alive and healthy enough to be here to complain! But you'd really hope the better part of our nature would prevail, and we could be more rational instead of emotional.
I just wonder if whoever created this Mason jar of a planet, threw all of us critters in here together, then poked some holes in the lid — do they now stand back and laugh or cry at our silly human race?
Frequently we operate off of emotions and not reason. I truly don't believe anyone is responsible or anyone is to blame for the coronavirus. So be careful in pointing a finger to the East.
It was less than 100 years ago, some folks in Europe were able to rationalize making lampshades and soap out of their fellow humans. Unfortunately until people start growing wings and turning into angels, there will always be an "Us" versus "Them," instead of a very needed "We."
Dr. Dan Retzer is a Rockford resident.