How to deal with contradiction and keep your spirits up
In last week’s piece, I wrote about being mindful to protect each other against the coronavirus, but also about being cautious of an exaggerated response that may lead to prolonged suffering and distress, due to job loss and economic collapse.
I also mentioned the dangers of politicizing the pandemic, and the efforts of some leaders to usurp power. A good example is Hungary’s Viktor Orban who succeeded in dissolving the Hungarian parliament and now runs the country by decree without a set time limit. Orban has officially dissolved democracy in Hungary, and has set a dangerous precedent in this already destabilized world.
No matter what is going on, we must protect our democracy, protect basic human rights, and freedom of speech. However, this brings forth a daunting question:
Who and what should we trust?
If you are like most people, myself included, you are trying to grasp the shocking changes our world has gone through in the past few weeks. We went from “life as usual”, to nothing is as usual. People want to know what happened and where coronavirus came from. Is it a natural occurrence, an accident, or a deliberate spread?
Every day I get texts and emails with another new theory, including videos and interviews of seemingly reputable people and scientists suggesting we are the victims of a conspiracy. Even as a medical professional who has knowledge of virology, I find the information confusing and bewildering.
To summarize, it is almost impossible to decipher where the truth lies unless we have a deep knowledge and ability to assess each claim and theory.
Perhaps you expected me to come up with my own theory about COVID-19, but I won’t. When I lack clarity or am missing verifiable information to help find an answer or a solution to a medical problem, I don't want to jump to conclusions.
The available news seems to leave us more uncertain about what exactly is going on, and this is when one approach comes in handy: Whenever unsure, stand still until a clear answer appears.
Standing still does not necessarily mean doing nothing. What I mean is to continue working, helping, and living as normally as possible within the limitations of the current restrictions and social distancing, until there is more clarity.
There is a tree in our garden that has delicious sour cherries, and when I see the fruit forming I am tempted to pick the cherries before they are ripe. When I do this all I am left with is an unpleasant taste in my mouth, and the same can be applied to these historic times. If we jump to conclusions before the "information available is complete" we may end up confused, depressed, and upset.
There are gazillions of people online trying to convince us that their theories are correct and others are not. Some seem credible, however, the information is not yet “ripe.” We need more evidence about what is really going on. We need to stand still.
Our main goal now is to not only protect our physical health, but also protect our state of mind by finding ways to stay hopeful and positive. It may still take time to gain clarity.
As the former dissident and first democratically elected president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel said:
“Truth and love will overcome lies and hatred."
As Gandhi said:
“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”
As Nelson Mandela said
“It always seems impossible until it's done.”
Hang in there, and give your dog a hug for me. This too shall pass….