Without a doubt, the danger, real or imagined, from this COVID-19 virus, is the most widespread fear of my lifetime. It’s like the perfect storm of social media, politics and a pandemic coming together to create power struggles, fear, and animosity.
Never before have I seen people, some I’ve known for years, express such strong emotions over the fear of dying. Never before have I seen communities turn against one another with such strong convictions.
It almost seems surreal. Afterall, “COVID-19” is a brand name. When you think about things like you cannot go into a bank without a mask and not long ago, you couldn’t wear a hooded sweatshirt or a baseball cap into a bank, it lets you know how strange things are getting. I saw a post recently pointing out “weed is legal, and haircuts are not – the hippies have finally won!” Liquor stores are essential business, but churches aren’t. Can it get any more surreal?
As with most things in life, actions cause reactions. Quite often we overreact. The fear of dying from the virus has many in society thinking we must prevent all deaths. How surreal is that?
We must return to the sad, yet realistic position, that death is part of the cycle of life. We must not lose sight of the numerous lives that are lost every day. This include lives from old age, stillborn, and everything in between.
I admit COVID-19 is “serious.” It has caused many elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions to die. I recognize some healthy people have also died from COVID-19.
We have a lot of “serious” conditions we must contend with daily. The difference is this condition is getting media coverage and is being used in political battles to the detriment of us all.
Take New York City for example. On their own Dept. of City Planning Website (www1.nyc.gov), it states there is a death every 9.1 minutes. That’s more than 6 deaths per hour, every hour, every day, year-round. (That’s over 52,500 deaths per year!) There is a risk being in NYC. I still enjoy going!
I have a friend that recently posted a picture of my favorite football stadium – Lambeau Field in Green Bay, on Facebook. She pointed out the stadium holds 81,441 people. She used the sold-out stadium as an illustration of the seriousness of COVID-19, as the death toll in the U.S. had hit 81,796 according to her post.
Using the illustration of Lambeau Field, every year in the U.S., we have 480,000 tobacco related deaths. That’s almost 6 full stadiums each year. We have 300,000 obesity deaths each year, almost another 4 full stadiums and this number is growing (no pun intended). We also fill a stadium every year (88,000) with alcohol related deaths. We also fill almost half a stadium each year (38,000) with traffic deaths (not to mention another 4.4 million needing medical attention).
My point is not to debate what is serious and what isn’t. If someone you know dies, it’s serious to you. The same holds true for all of us.
I’m more concerned about the effect of the fears, whether real or imagined. Throughout American history, we have been a country that is the first to respond when there is a tragedy. We send aid, food, funds, and volunteers around the world when tragedy strikes. When this pandemic first hit, people began hoarding toilet paper and cleaning supplies – neighbors in need be damned!
Our military believes in “no man left behind.” Soldiers that have only known their comrades since boot camp will run into gun fire to retrieve a wounded soldier laying on a battlefield. We have lost the sense of humanity from our fear, as now our elderly are dying alone. Honoring our lost loved ones with funeral services are non-existent. Loved ones suffering in hospital beds are suffering alone. (Of course, I know we have first responders there.) I’m saying they are suffering without family present for support.
I see and hear friends and families arguing over this virus. The debate rages on “is it dangerous or is it not” amongst them. Then to add gasoline to the fire, politics get thrown into the mix. It is the divide between family and friends, and the loss of humanity, I “fear” more than I do the virus. I prefer to risk “catching” the virus over losing the ability to hug and kiss loved ones, shake hands and high five friends. I prefer to look at people, human beings, as kind and caring individuals; not as a disease-carrying, threatening form of life that is going to wipe me out.
I despise politics. Shame on Republican and Democratic parties. Both sides are using the virus and the fear of the people to push their agendas, what they believe is best, rather than focus on the people they were elected to serve. (We’re giving you money! We’re saving your lives! Yet, they’ve taken your livelihood. They’ve taken your freedom. We’ll never be the same.) Somewhere, along the way, we switched from the elected officials working for us to now we are working for them. With their lifetime pensions after one term, the perks they enjoy at the cost to taxpayers was not what our Founding Fathers designed. When they “retired” from “public service” (Our Founding Fathers didn’t make a career out of it), they went back to their professions or simply retired. They did not have society continue to support them for the rest of their lives. Truth be told, in my lifetime, I have voted for Republicans and I have voted for Democrats. I’ve always voted based on the individuals, not party lines. I also must confess, that regardless of which party has been President, I cannot say I’ve ever noticed an impact in my personal life. Having worked with non-profit organizations for 20+ years, I’ve never seen a noticeable change in funding for programs. The only “needle-mover” I see in politics is the debates and arguments that breakup families and friendships over things that rarely affect the average citizen.
In addition to my “fear” over the loss of humanity, I “fear” the loss of our freedoms over fear. In the after-effects of 9-1-1, our fears allowed the taking of our privacy under the blanket of “homeland security.”
We’ve now lost the freedom of choice to go to work. We’ve lost the freedom of choice whether to wear a mask. We’ve lost the choice of going out to eat, on a shopping spree, or meeting a friend for coffee.
I completely understand, the loss of these “freedoms” is for our safety, our health, and longevity. I’ve heard every position on why losing our freedom of choices are happening. I can even accept saying these losses have saved lives. That isn’t my fear or my point. When we first fought for our freedom from Great Britain, it was for the belief we needed less government not more. We the People, By the People, For the People, means our government believes we know what is best. When the government “dictates” what we can and cannot do, it is saying we’re not smart enough to do things on our own. They have to tell us what to do. America, Land of the Free, is no more. It saddens me that all the soldiers and other military personnel serving us around the world are fighting and losing lives for freedoms; freedoms being taken from us, out of fear. We’ve lost fearless leaders – in both parties!
I do not have any problem with people wanting to wear masks. That is their choice. I believe people that do not want to wear masks shouldn’t have to. I also believe this about motorcycle helmets and seat belts. I have another friend that says, that would be okay, if it didn’t affect the health care system. The financial drain is enormous. Really?
Where do we draw the line? When will it stop? As we lose freedom of choices to save lives…will the government ban all sugar to save the 300,000 lives we lose each year from obesity? Will they give up the sales tax revenues on tobacco products and ban all tobacco to save 400,000 lives a year? If they eliminate the use of automobiles, we can save 38,000 lives a year and save 4.4 million trips to ERs and doctor’s offices. In the past we would think giving up autos will never happen. It would cost too many jobs. Apparently, the loss of jobs is no longer the biggest fear! Keeping everyone from ever dying is the biggest fear.
What’s interesting in having these discussions with people, is the argument that things are being done for our protection, our safety. For decades, our government knew tobacco products were deadly. However, tobacco companies were the largest campaign contributors, so the death tolls continued to mount. It wasn’t until the health industries began to contribute more than the tobacco companies that laws around smoking began to change. It was campaign contributions from health insurance companies that got seatbelt and helmet laws passed. When laws are passed for longer prison sentences, larger fines, it is a result of opportunity. When elected officials can get some publicity for addressing an issue with high media coverage you can bet legislation will be passed. Keep in mind every law passed takes away another freedom. Freedom used to be America’s compass. We have surrendered freedom to those in power out of fear – real or imagined, and definitely created. We’re allowing people into Costco, WalMart & Home Depot, while depriving graduations, religious services, and camping. (Tax revenue generation vs. no tax revenues.)
You and I must also be alert to other fears. I see people driving, wearing masks and texting. One gentleman almost drove into a side rail while looking in the mirror attempting to put his mask on! Sometimes, I think the masks are like baby blankets, providing a false sense of security. I see people wear masks in grocery stores, holding onto carts. As they leave the store, they take their hands from the carts and remove their masks or simply push the masks down below the chin, so they can breathe in whatever germs the masks have picked up.
I know I cannot change the world. I only want to positively change the relationships I can. I want you to know, whatever you choose to do, whether it’s wearing a mask or not, shaking hands, giving hugs or not, whether you’re into politics or not, Democrat or Republican, I appreciate you. I respect your choices. You can be different than me. I hope you can honor my choices and the choices of others. Please know, when you are ready for a hug or handshake, I will be happy to give you one.
I’m committed to living without fear. I believe no matter what I do, I cannot change when God will call me home. I believe regardless of how protected I am, if it’s my time, God will bring me home. If it’s not my time, God will protect me.
I pray you find comfort and avoid negative news. I pray the stress from fear doesn’t cause you more damage than the virus itself.
If you would like assistance with overcoming your fears, I can help you. We can meet by phone, on Zoom, or in a place you deem safe with social distancing. Whether you choose me or someone else, a coach will expedite your results.
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I always look forward to your thoughts and replies.
Your partner for success,
Bryan M. Balch
Helping Individuals and Businesses Achieve Their Desired Results
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