Published in The Providence Journal, May 12, 2020
Covid19 has made an impact of all of our lives. It is a virus, does not choose sides, does not care about our politics, thoughts or opinions and has one purpose – to survive. It does not possess malicious intent, it simply is. It does not think. We do. We need to unite and fight it with every tool we have. Our arsenal is limitless. Social distancing and hand washing is obvious. Face masks, disinfectants, UV light, plasma, vaccines, artificial intelligence, solar flares – who knows, perhaps something nobody has yet to think of will be the cure. One thing is certain though, without critical thinking the virus will win. If not this one, the ones to follow.
We cannot survive without cooperation. We need people to raise livestock, grow plants, transport goods, care for our sick and bury our dead. Many healthcare workers, scientists and first responders are dead set against opening our economy for fear of a continued and catastrophic spread of the disease. Others are focused on opening for business and rolling the dice, knowing that to fail to do so will have dire consequences. Protests at State Capitols are common, two sides with opposing views and a cadre of supporters behind them demanding to be heard.
Problem is, neither side is listening to the other. The first step toward regaining our lives is to consider the possibility that all of us are a little right, and a little wrong, and to understand that we have a common goal, and to start working toward obtaining it.
A world full of people who never have to consider an opposing view is a world doomed. For every person who has formulated a bad idea there are thousands who will agree, and expand upon it. Each and every one of us has the ability to create our own fan club on social media. We live our lives shrouded in the comfort of validation. The burden of contemplation, compromise and enlightenment has been lifted. We can pick any topic, and then ignore opposing views, analysis, opinion or facts about it. Using carefully worded Google searches we can find multiple sources to confirm our position, and never be wrong again. Once we have carefully created a reality that substantiates what we believe to be true, a soapbox awaits. We can preach our message without fear, for dissention is easily muted, and those who agree with whatever it is we contribute to the discussion are plentiful. An echo chamber creates echoes, but echoes always die.
Or, we can take responsibility for our thoughts and opinions, and do our best to be a well informed person open to the possibility of expansion of knowledge and perhaps even enlightenment. Gone are the days that news of current events is presented to us in a neat, trustworthy bundle. To believe in what we are told by the morass of media available to us, without question, will lead us into whichever world the particular source promotes. The Age of Information has morphed into The Age of Whatever Information Suits You, and that is a dangerous age to live in. People power our civilization, and a truthfully informed populace is imperative for progress.
Michael Morse, email@example.com, a monthly contributor is a retired Captain with the Providence Fire Department and author.