Friday, March 27, 2020

When being afraid and giving up are healthy

I am the kind of person who will read all of the horrifying news and statistics and political bullshit because I want to know what is happening.  It gives me a realistic picture of the world I'm operating in, so I can make decisions.  I'm suspicious of news (and any person) that only tells me what I want to hear.  I think that has served me well so far; I started taking the pandemic seriously a couple of weeks before most people around me did.  That could literally have saved my life.  It might do so still.

I don't think most of the people who insist on relentless positivity are doing so well, honestly.  I think that's only a good strategy for people whose lives are mostly good already, for whom privilege or other circumstances have already dealt them a winning hand.  I'm not talking about focusing on the positive and keeping your head up; that's actually a very good way to survive.  I'm talking about the people who won't acknowledge trouble when it's staring them in the face.

What I'm seeing around me is a lot of denial, on various levels from the local to the national, and a lot of fear.  I'm seeing a lot of the people in denial criticizing those who are fearful, because fear is bad, right?  Nobody wants to be a scaredy-cat.  Fear is weakness, and I'm not weak, I'm strong! 

You know why we, as creatures, evolved fear?  Because it tells you that you are in danger, and when to run, hide, or fight.  Animals that don't experience fear get eaten.

Fear in the face of a real threat is not weakness or cowardice.  It means your instincts are functioning the way they are supposed to.  I don't know how anyone can look at the unforgiving math of how COVID-19 is spreading, and the lack of resources (Atlanta hospitals are already out of ICU beds), and the disastrous failure of national leadership, and not be afraid. 

However, at a certain point, more information is not necessarily more of an advantage.  I'll still be paying attention to whatever the CDC and WHO have to say, but today, in terms of news coverage about what our president is doing, I officially hit the wall.

Apparently...after telling governors to get their own equipment, then outbidding them through FEMA...he's now saying they "don't need" as many ventilators as they are requesting.  I can see what he's doing.  He's looking at the map, and seeing that as of now California, Washington, and New York are the hardest hit, and they didn't vote for him.  So the people in those states can die.  He's going to save back the inadequate number of ventilators that are available, and when a red-leaning battleground state (like Georgia, maybe) asks for them, they will be available.

The problem here is that it's not just that people in those blue states will die, which is horrifying enough.  It's that this is certainly going to be predicated on governors following the party line, which is that everything is fine and we can go back to work.  Which is going to make cases, hospital needs and mortality rates in those states skyrocket.  People in my red-leaning potential battleground state are going to die, who didn't need to...unless our governor breaks ranks, in which case he can go whistle for ventilators like the rest of them. 

Trump is going to let people who didn't vote for him die.  He's going to let people in states that don't cooperate with him die, and let their governors take the blame.  He's going to let people in states that DO cooperate with him die...but he'll release equipment to them, and make himself look like a hero there.

I know that's what he's doing.  I fear that people, in the aggregate, are not smart enough to see it.  I know for sure that his supporters will not see it, and worse, many of them will think it's fine.  They hate liberals anyway.  They want us to die; they say so often enough. 

They are going to die too.  In fact, none of this is going to work and people in red states (like the one I live in) are going to die in droves.  Blue states on lockdown are going to get out relatively unscathed, for some value of that, for all that they seem to be hardest hit now. 

So, we're fucked either way.  If I get sick, the fact that Georgia might get more ventilators than New York because my governor isn't willing to contradict the president too hard will not matter, because we'll have so many more cases that my chances of access to care will remain very low.  I'm likely to get triaged right out of an ICU anyway, because I'm diabetic and was in the ICU less than six months ago.  They'll put a healthier person in there who they think is more likely to live.   The fact that I have an established track record of not dying when people expect me to won't matter.  I have nine lives like a cat and I'm only on life three or four.  But even a cat needs a little help.

I'm scared enough to stay home.  And I'm giving up on listening to anything coming from the direction of the White House, because I don't need to hear about Trump's latest fuckery to know the gist of it.  I'm giving up arguing with people about this, because if they were going to listen, they already have, and if they're not going to listen, I'm wasting my breath and I might need it.

I'm focusing mainly on what I can do to make things better...for me, for the people around me.  I'm writing a lot in my Patreon blog about spiritual matters, because people need that kind of support.  I'm writing more in general, because it's good for me and for the people who read it.  I'm parceling out my resources (mainly time and energy) where I can.  I'm trying to be canny about what I can do something about and what I can't, and adapt accordingly. 

Be well.  Be smart, be fast (stay still), and don't let the bastards grind you down.

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