It’s summertime. This was when the virus was supposed to back off for a while. That’s certainly not happening.
America’s response to this pandemic has been a tragedy, and a national embarrassment – the result of a catastrophic failure of leadership, and the deliberate politicization of recommended measures to limit the spread of the virus. The resulting “conservative” backlash against CDC guidelines for social distancing and mask wearing has made things worse, setting us up for a truly miserable winter, when it was already expected that things will get worse as most activities move inside and the virus double teams us with the flu.
The combined impact of the virus, and the nation-wide protests against police violence and racism, against the backdrop of historic polarization and economic disparity, has sent stress levels through the roof.
So what can one person do to improve the situation?
On the macro scale, not much. This destructive cycle has been building up a head of steam for a long time, and we are now in a blowoff phase. Like a fever, it is going to run its course until it finally breaks, or until the host dies. The double impact of the virus and the protests has been like pouring gasoline on an already raging fire.
On an individual level, you can vote, you can respect your neighbors, you can practice good pandemic social hygiene, you can take courses, gain skills, you can pray. If you are so inclined, you can phone or text bank for your favorite candidate. Most of all, you can take care of yourself and those close to you as best you can, and lend a hand where you can to those less fortunate.
Here are the best resources I have found for info on the virus:
Best I’ve seen on transmission risk:
The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them by Erin Bromage.
A good explanation on confusion over “airborne” transmission:
The Debate Over “Airborne” Coronavirus Spread, Explained by Brian Resnick
A sobering article on the reality of vaccine development:
A Dangerous Link Between Our Search For a Coronavirus Cure and Bloodletting by Robert Pearl, M.D.
To help weather the storm, I have a few additional recommendations:
- Transcendental Meditation. TM is a simple practice and a fundamental benefic for all that ails you, but especially so now. I have been practicing TM for 40 years, and I have never been more grateful to be able to close my eyes and effortlessly let the day’s stress wash away. And don’t think that all meditations are the same. They’re not. Not even close. TM is unique and it is the gold standard.
- Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD). This site features a new photo every day from Hubble and earthbound sources. I have it on my desktop and check in every day. It reminds me of the vast expanse of creation, our miraculous place in it, and the utter foolishness of our petty arguments. I find it calming, and uplifting. Despite the madness consuming our country, nature remains unperturbed. All is as is should be on the grand scale.
- The news. It’s hard not to be consumed by the daily news cycle. Many individuals and entities are working overtime to keep you obsessed with each new day’s scandal, outrage, calamity. The sky is always falling, and they will show you why you should be upset and who to blame. Even so, there are important developments, historic even, taking place affecting all of us, and it’s important to stay informed. So how best to be informed without being propagandized, manipulated and exhausted?
- One – realize that you are being manipulated and propagandized. Try not to buy in. And don’t buy the notion that the manipulation and propaganda are only coming from one side. Media left and right make their money on ears and eyeballs. They are all playing the same game, at your expense.
- Two – avoid cable news at all cost. They are all toxic. Avoid Twitter & Facebook. You’ll find yourself siloed, propagandized, and increasingly polarized.
- Three – check in with dedicated non-partisan groups like Braver Angels and No Labels.
- Four – select your source for news wisely. Probably the single best source for news is The Economist. Weekly, covers the world, in-depth, objective, no hype, no propaganda.
- If you just have to follow the daily news cycle, Google News and Memeorandum give you the headlines from a spectrum of sources. And NPR news is very balanced.
- If you want honest, responsible, left-leaning journalism and commentary – Talking Points Memo. If you want honest, responsible conservative commentary – The Bulwark. For the gold standard in polling – Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight. For in-depth legal and national security analysis – Lawfare.
The daily Trump show and the political warfare over the coming election was already consuming the nation. Add to that the Covid pandemic, and the nation-wide protests against racism and police violence ignited by the murder of George Floyd, and there is not much bandwidth left for anything else.
The pace of debt creation is not getting much attention – $3 trillion in pandemic relief so far, and the need for even more extends as far as the eye can see. $3 trillion fills in a lot of potholes in the short term, but this level of support is not remotely sustainable. Big changes are coming…a topic for the next letter.
The election is still 4 months away. Seems like a very long time with all that’s going on. Pray that this election yields inspired and dedicated servant leadership. We’re going to need it.