PANIC! ….or….not?

According to Michael Moore, the answer is, “Yes! Panic!  Do it now!”  The hook of Moore’s latest headline is, “Millions Will Die….”  He advocates “smart” panic, and sounds a call to all Americans to make demands of local, state, and federal officials.  Among the demands, he says, should be nationalization of factories to make masks, ventilators, and other essential equipment; production of test kits for every single person; mobilization of the army to construct field hospitals; and implementation of a nationwide lockdown.  While I agree overall with the actions on Moore’s list, and usually support his positions, I question his rhetoric and his scare tactics in this case.  Perception is reality, and framing is everything.  Urging a state of panic gains nothing for anyone.  Aside from the fact that, by definition, a thoughtful, focused panic is an oxymoron, the connotations are all negative.  Also, given even the current shortage of medical equipment in the United States, it doesn’t seem likely that the death toll will be in the millions, under the lockdown measures already in place.  The current mortality number would have to go up some 2,400 times to hit one million.  In short, yes, Moore’s outrage is justified, but I think he’s gone off the deep end with this latest commentary, and his ranting tone defeats his purpose. 

In contrast to Moore’s hyperventilating bellicosity are the thoughts and words of Chris Heeter of The Wild Institute (thank you for sharing, Kathy).  Mr. Heeter’s latest post is themed, “If We Do This Right,” and opens with a description of the sounds of nature that may be newly audible, absent surging traffic and constant bustle.  Heeter advocates living with nature instead of against it, and acknowledging our part in the natural order.  His are words of hope:

“And, if we do this right—and by that I mean with grace and compassion—perhaps we’ll see ourselves in strangers.  Really see ourselves for the global family that we are.  And wrap our hearts and our mighty intellect around protecting, preserving, and caring for all who inhabit this beautiful world.  And even the world itself.  As we stand steady together in sickness and in health.”

I was thinking of this message as we prepared to leave our campsite this afternoon.  Most often, we are among the last to leave a campground on Sundays, both because we enjoy the parks so much, and because we usually don’t have any reason to hurry home.  Today at checkout time, though, we remarked that we were the only ones vacating our site.  The other campers showed no signs of imminent departure; they were staying into the week.  Several of the families included children, as I mentioned on Friday.  It struck me that, as truly horrendous as this health crisis is for so many people, nevertheless, there are some silver linings.  The treat of spending a March week in the woods with the kids is one of them.  If we do this right, quality time with loved ones–whatever the scenario–can create positive memories, if we’re open to it. 

Yes, the measures Michael Moore outlines to combat the pandemic are imperative, and should have been in place two weeks ago; that’s common sense.  But as we push for responsible actions from our leaders, can we not at the same time pause to acknowledge our part in the global family, and practice the grace that Chris Heeter wishes for us?

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