I’m making a point to write a message of thanks for everyone who has posted things related to how we keep a more vulnerable population safer by canceling events, self-quarantining, washing our hands, and generally spreading awareness about the impact of COVID-19. I appreciate those who share messages challenging us to think beyond our own selfish wants and desires by becoming more aware of the global impact of this threat and our actions related to it. If I’ve missed one of your posts to that effect, please consider this public post as a display of personal thanks.
I’m having problems with the people who still refuse to think it’s a problem, though—especially those still spreading disinformation. The ignorance and arrogance of such posts is personally disturbing.
You see, though I am not elderly, I entered the “higher-risk” category this past fall due to a medical situation. I also have family, co-workers and (I’m sure) audience patrons with that same classification. And although I had all of the recommended preventative vaccines due to my condition (flu, pneumonia, hepatitis, etc), there is no vaccine yet for COVID-19. I, and many whom I know, are at greater risk were we to contract this coronavirus, plain and simple.
I don’t mind the funny memes. I’ve shared a bunch myself, laughed at many I’ve seen. Some I find hilariously funny, especially the “dark” ones. (And please continue to call out the ridiculous hoarder subculture). Laughter is important at such times. But now that the situation is a reality, we must also use discretion.
I certainly do not mind anyone’s expression of disappointment or frustration at cancellations, I, too, am inconvenienced and upset on a personal level. My work has been impacted. My public entertainments of choice (sports, concerts, theatre, movies) have also been interrupted. I don’t go to the gym anymore. And I too, am running low on toilet paper (WTF, people?). I’m sorry we are all inconvenienced. It sucks. But for the greater good, go I.
For those who do share their thoughts, fears, humor, and reflections: please don’t spread disinformation about how things are overblown, how drinking green tea tincture prevents and cures the virus, or how science has failed us. By now should all know that those posts were incorrect. We’ve known about our vulnerabilities to this and did nothing. We’ve known about this particular strain of coronavirus since December and did little to prepare, somehow believing it would skip over us—that we have some kind of magical immunity. Many have mocked it and paid the price. Many more will do so as a result of their hubris.
Our actions affect others in ways far beyond the biological threat. I’ve bought popcorn from the vendors that will no longer be employed at the sports arenas. I’ll not say hello to the ushers and other hourly workers whose services are no longer needed at canceled arts events. I’ve colleagues with lost revenue from canceled engagements. Friends who live paycheck to paycheck. I’ve friends from Iran and Italy who are deeply concerned for their families there. I’ve friends in China who have lost family members and friends. This truly does suck on so many levels.
But in the face of such hopelessness, what are we to do?
I suggest that it’s high time we think of the greater good by taking action. That begins with personal responsibility. My ideas for that include:
1. staying healthy, and continue taking the steps we can to combat this virus. Follow the suggested protocols coming from state and local leaders and pay attention to what the directors of the CDC, WHO, and other medical professionals advise.
2. Be available for others in the ways that you can.
3. Spread positivity.
4. Question dubious information. If you post something that is later proven wrong, take it down and follow up with a retraction. It’s ok to admit you were wrong.
5. Don’t panic buy or hoard basic necessities. Share with others.
6. Use your intellect!
7. Continue to make music, produce art and feed your soul, even if it isn’t from a concert hall, gallery or theater. These are the deeper things that remain universally important in the face of uncertainty.
I’ll see you on the other side. And by that, I mean likely sometime later in 2020 from a classroom and/or concert stage near you. And for God’s sake, let’s all go wash our hands one more time, just to be safe. I, and others, thank you.
Copyright, 2020, Robert Baldwin, Before the Downbeat