My COVID Times Diary: Our Values
Here in America, we have lived with the COVID pandemic for over nine months now. Correspondingly we are living through a period of extreme political partisanship. This period of time has had an interesting and revealing effect on our society.
Let’s talk about stress and pressure. Something that I have observed over my lifetime is that people’s true nature is often revealed when they are under pressure. Much like people when they are drinking, being under pressure seems to knock off their inhibitions and masks. This means that people often react and act in ways that they wouldn’t, if they were carefully hiding behind their carefully constructed masks. Ways that have a tendency to reflect what they truly think, believe and value.
COVID has certainly been this type of stressful time. I have seen it at work, people I work with have been revealed in interesting ways. There are people who have stepped up and into roles that I had not thought previously capable of, and of course the opposite has happened as well.
The place I have seen it the most has been on social media in relation to politics and COVID policies. The political revelations have not been surprising, but they have been deeper than I had previously encountered from people. There has also been so much more noise around these issues than normal, so much so that I have begun to limit my social media connections. But the most disturbing revelations have been around COVID safety.
People often profess that they care about the welfare of their fellow human. Many have religious beliefs that also profess to have the same type of core value of caring. One of the reasons I like the Jon Stewart quote above is that COVID has truly tested our values, particularly how much we care about of fellow human.
Let me apologize for the soap box I’m about to climb up upon. I don’t believe a lot of you. You see I see your posts and rants about this or that idiot who isn’t taking COVID seriously, or called it a hoax, or thinks it’s not anymore dangerous than the the flu. But then I also see your rage when measures are put into place, for safety, that inconvenience you. I see your photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter where you are clearly either not wearing a mask in a crowd, in a crowd, or taking a picture with the friend you haven’t seen for years. In all of these situations you are putting yourself at risk for contracting COVID, you’re not following safety recommendations, or you are, but only when it’s convenient, or when you want to and by doing so are putting other people at risk of sickness and/or death.
Around Thanksgiving I kept having the same conversation with people, right after they told me how careful they were being for the holiday because they take COVID seriously, they would soon follow up with a list of all the people coming to their house for dinner. Recently, people keep asking me if I’m going to visit family for Christmas, or hoping, since I live alone, that I’ll be with people at Christmas. Obviously, if I were to do that, I wouldn’t be following COVID precautions. What that tells me, is that these people are going to make sure they are with people for the holidays and will not be taking the level of precautions that they should. This is simply the biggest reason that the United States is one of, if not the, highest infection and death rate on Earth.
It makes me sad for two reasons. First, it clearly shows me that the core value of caring for your fellow human isn’t very strong. It can’t be, if it can’t overcome by simple inconvenience. Second, it also shows that understanding science isn’t relevant to Americans. If we can’t overcome inconvenience to save others, if we so highly doubt scientific fact and research, particularly when there is a clear an imminent threat to our lives. Then how will we ever tackle an issue like global warming that is long-term and highly complex. Honestly, it all just makes me terribly sad and really decimates my remaining faith in humanity. All I can personally do, is to do my best to stick to my own core values. However it is having another impact on my life. I’m finding myself drifting away from those people who have shown to not to be true to their values, or who don’t have them in the first place. I’ve never felt that I can only be friends with people who have identical values to me, but I find that I have less affection for people who know what their values are and stick to them.