How NOT to Handle a Pandemic (Psychologically)

A rational approach to a pandemic (not happening):

Don’t panic.
Stay rational.
Go about your business, as much as possible. Use common sense. Don’t spread germs. Don’t put yourself in a position to contact germs.
Work together, be civil and humane.
Be of good cheer. As of now, it could be worse. The worst can happen, but usually doesn’t.
Set rational time limits on restraints (e.g. restaurant closings) and reevaluate limits at that time.

Our media and government’s approach (largely bipartisan):

PANIC. For God’s sake: Panic.
If you know someone who’s not in a panic, then MAKE THEM PANIC. Watch the news ALL DAY. If you don’t watch the news, you will die.
Stop ALL business as usual. Don’t even leave the house. Unless you absolutely, positively have to … maybe not even then. Buy a drone to walk your dog (it’s actually happening!)
Tell on your neighbors if they don’t toe the Party line/government orders. (California’s Governor last night called it “social pressure”…this is a policy borrowed from Maoist Communist China, by the way)
No time limits on total shutdowns. Hunker down and be ready for a long, long siege.
More edicts to follow. (Hint: Gun bans. Hint: inflammatory speech online will be deemed hate speech; “Facebook and Twitter will be cooperating with authorities over the coronavirus”…I see the headlines now. Kiss my posts good-bye, and the posts of many others.)

I can’t predict everything that will happen. Nobody can. If they tell you they can, they are lying. They are afraid, too. Many of them have children too. They have people or things or experiences they value. They handle their fear by pretending they know more than they do. That’s how some people cope in a crisis. Sociopaths seek power in a crisis, because they see their opportunity. Beware of most politicians. We already knew how they are. It’s no longer funny.

I am 100 percent certain, as a 32 year practitioner in the field of psychology and therapy, which has allowed me a tremendous window into human nature, that our current response to this pandemic is not psychologically sustainable. Least of all, in America. Americans are conflicted about submission to authority. They’re not Italians. They are not Chinese. This isn’t racism; it’s culture. Americans are from many different ethnic backgrounds, but the one thing we have in common is liberty in daily life. Freedom is our culture.

The internal conflict among millions necessarily will boil over, at some point. Get real. We are talking millions and millions of households with grade school and high schools kids with nowhere to go and nothing to do for the rest of the school year … and maybe into the fall. Family dynamics are often on the edge. This is not a one or two week period. It’s open-ended. Even President Trump says this will go on through the summer. Summer vacation? Summer resorts? Summer fun? How well do you see this playing out in August? How could anyone think this is sustainable?

I don’t know what precise form the impact will take. I don’t know what it will look like in August, on our present course. I don’t think our elected officials, especially on the Democratic side, will ever, ever back down. They are proving themselves all the things I thought they were — only worse. And that’s just so far. They want power. They lusted after more and more power a month ago, when things were so different. They haven’t changed in a month. They don’t care about the rights or physical well-being of people. Not most of them. People, from a career politician’s point-of-view, are a means to the end of the exercise of his or her power. They care about their careers, their connections, and the money they make from these connections. They care about feeling important. Think Hunter Biden. That’s most of them, not just the Bidens.

President Trump is not like that. I truly believe he cares, and he really wants to do what’s right. But he’s listening to people, in some cases, who care more about the government than they do about the people. Dr. Anthony Fauci is knowledgeable, but he is a career doctor-bureaucrat of many, many decades. Dr. Fauci might think he cares about the people, but in reality he cares about his government world. That’s all he has ever known. He’s not a front-line doctor. He’s not the heroic researcher who will discover the great cure. He is neither of those things. THOSE are the heroes we are counting on. They won’t get press conferences.

We can’t put our lives and our entire culture of freedom into his hands. I am counting on President Trump to figure out a better way and lead us away from totalitarianism, at least if we don’t get a total cure in a few weeks, as he seems to hope right now. If President Trump follows the lead of the Establishment he was elected to combat, then he will, tragically, become irrelevant. Democrats will find someone who can do that job much better. Hopefully this won’t happen. I see a real danger of that, right at this moment. Maybe that will change.

The best hope: Mass numbers of people will wake up and become more rational after a couple of more weeks. Right now, we are being told Armageddon is here. You must submit to more of a totalitarian lifestyle than even that of a Communist country. That’s what we’re told, in effect, if not those exact words. In due course, the predicted Armageddon will either play out — in which case civilization will collapse and most of us will die — or it won’t. It probably won’t. The evidence suggests, so far, that it won’t, but admittedly, we don’t know for sure.

And if it doesn’t play out as The End of Times, people will wake up, stop acting like sheep and start a mass resistance movement to the end of civilization now proposed by those who clawed their way into authority. I’m counting on the fact that we are still America, not Italy or China. But I don’t know for sure what we are. We will know soon.

Personal advice for sanity? Stay critical in your thinking. You need a lot of things in this crisis. But you will need your THINKING most of all. It’s your last, best hope for survival.



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