Before all this started… say, about the second week of Feb… people were asking me if I was worried about the coronavirus. Based on the data at the time, my answer was, “I worry more about the response than I do the virus.” It really wasn’t that hard to predict what was going to transpire. Just need to be moderately observant.
However, this seems like a good time to repeat something else I’ve said numerous times over the years: it isn’t the bad people that ‘worry’ me; bad people act in defiance of their own consciences which alert them to the fact that what they are doing is bad, and, in the main, society is controlled by people who will check their behaviors. The people that REALLY worry me are the ‘good’ people. Good people act with the approval of their consciences and without apology for their actions because, after all, even if they foul things up completely, and end up hurting a great many more people than they ever considered possible, they meant well. And society is constructed in such a way as to lean in their favor.
There is another thing about the attitudes of these ‘good’ people that is deeply concerning (if you are concerned about freedom, liberty, not being thrown into prison for dissenting, being killed if you object to their excesses, etc) is that since in many cases their prime consideration is their own sincere intentions (which I do not at all doubt), when confronted with dissenters, they find it very difficult, if not impossible, to avoid assuming that if someone disagrees with them, THOSE people must not have sincere intentions. In other words, the dissenters slide, by default, into the ‘malevolent’ camp.
And you know what you can do with the people in the malevolent camp, don’t you? Just ask the ‘bad’ people. They know.
Now, I don’t think this is ‘intentional.’ But as far as the fate of those unfortunate enough to suddenly discover they are now in the ‘malevolent’ category, that is really besides the point. I have been pleading for ‘good’ people to avoid making this categorical error for almost a decade now. Others, too. How have we fared? Well, like I said, very early in February, I was able to predict pretty well what was going to happen, so you may guess at our progress.
We have not yet seen our society come to blows on this, but there is clearly a misunderstanding afoot that I wish to clear up before it does. It is this: JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE DISAGREES WITH YOU DOESN’T MEAN THEY ARE BAD PEOPLE; JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE DISAGREES WITH YOU DOESN’T MEAN THEY CARE FOR THE WELL-BEING OF PEOPLE LESS THAN YOU.
You aren’t the only one who cares about people. You aren’t the only one with loved ones. You aren’t the only one who is, or has, people in ‘vulnerable’ populations. You aren’t the only one who cares for [fill in the blank.] It is bizarre, I think, a truly despicable line of reasoning we’ve seen entrench itself in our society within the ‘identity’ politics paradigm, which presumes that if you don’t support X, you must hate certain people, you must not have had similar experiences, you must not know people with such and such experiences, etc, etc, etc.
They cry ’empathy’ but they simultaneously say “you could never understand because you are not X.” Apparently, they do not understand what the word ’empathy’ means. If you have not in some way experienced what somebody else has experienced, how can you possibly empathize?
At any rate, my point is that dissenters often are X, but our ‘good’ people never take the time to ascertain whether or not that is the case. I’ve expounded on this often on this blog, so I won’t go into it much more now, but the reason why they don’t take that time is because of the categorical error described above, and, well, they are more interested in winning.
So, let me be absolutely clear, here. And I believe I speak for many, many, many people when I say this.
There is very little objection to short term shut downs and quarantines and so on. However, when you argue these measures are going to be in place for the long term, that’s an entirely different question.
For example, when I say that I think we are ‘over reacting’ I am not necessarily thinking about our actions now. To me, it is completely reasonable, when we do not know all the things that we need to know, to take measures based on that ignorance. So, if you want to shut down things for a week, two weeks, three weeks, hell, even four weeks, hey, I can abide that. But if you want to do more than that, you’d better have really good reasons for it, and claiming ‘ignorance’ or postulating what ‘could’ happen isn’t going to cut it.
Read that paragraph again.
You can shut things down for 1-4 weeks and almost everyone finds that reasonable. In my own encounters and readings, I have yet to find anyone who doesn’t.
The accusations of ‘over reaction’ are connected to what is being proposed beyond this short term period.
Please, I beg you. READ THAT AGAIN and give it its due weight. I think you will struggle to find many people who disagree with that.
THE PROBLEM is that they aren’t just talking about 1-4 weeks, are they? Indeed, the problem is that the same basis which is offered for the 1-4 week shut downs is the same basis on which they are calling for shut downs FOR 18 MONTHS. It is because these things are entangled, I think, that people are having trouble drawing a distinction between feelings about a month versus feelings about an 18 months.
THE PROBLEM with the 18 month scheme is that it assumes things that are just not plausible (eg, that we won’t develop treatments, etc) and in the fine print, it is acknowledged that once you factor those things in, why, the recommendations change radically. For some reason, as we watch these other ‘factors’ start to register, these other ‘models’ are not given weight.
The scale of misery, and yes, even deaths, to a 18 month shut down, are beyond imagination right now. I’m so glad that people are worried about what ‘could’ happen if we don’t do everything possible to stop the virus. I just wish they would ask themselves what ‘could’ happen if we do do everything possible to stop the virus.
Personally, as I’ve said repeatedly, I don’t believe people would stand for even a 3 month shut down. So, its a bit moot, in my opinion. There are areas where more lasting damage can be done, and good people shoving other good people into the ‘malevolent’ box are a perfect case in point.
I want to mention just one more thing.
I said above, “To me, it is completely reasonable, when we do not know all the things that we need to know, to take measures based on that ignorance. ”
Well, we don’t remain ignorant forever, do we? And we don’t remain without treatments forever, do we? We had a sense very early on just who was most vulnerable and so on and now that sense has pretty well been confirmed. It was not wise to link the long term possibilities with the rationale for the short term possibilities, for the obvious reason that circumstances change. It has become a situation where you can’t challenge the long term stuff because it is enmeshed with the short term stuff. These need to be detached, ASAP.
No serious person believed the worst case scenarios were actually possible because the worst case scenarios all anticipated “doing nothing.” Of course some of the things that would change that are quarantines and ‘social distancing’ but other things included treatments, or the possibility of more targeted quarantine measures (eg, like South Korea). Similarly, what was not possible on the short term for lack of testing, becomes very much possible when testing kicks in.
This is not an irrational line of thought. It is not a malevolent line of thought. You don’t care for people more than I do if you think less of these considerations than I do. I don’t think you care for people less because you think less of these considerations.
My complaint from the beginning is not that people think less of them but that they don’t think of them at all.