Gazing At the World


So this was on Facebook from Frank Swain@SciencePunk:

Study 3 years for degree.

Study 3 more for PhD.

Join lab, start working.

Spend years studying problems.

Form hypothesis, gather evidence.

Test hypothesis, form conclusions.

Report findings, clear peer review.

Findings published, reported in press.

Guy on internet: “Bullshit.”

This post didn’t just make me laugh hysterically, it summed up my feelings about all of the disagreements regarding Covid-19 and whether or not it is a dangerous virus. The members of the medical community and numbers of scientists and researchers are all telling us that we must be wary of underestimating the potential of the virus to continue to impact our lives. At the same time there is so much noise from individuals and groups whose only qualifications for understanding and discussing infectious disease are their gut instincts. I ask myself why they are so intent on not only ignoring the cautions from those with the most knowledge about such things, but also on insisting that the rest of us bow to their right to gamble with innocent lives.

Their answer appears to be to make fun of those of us who want to stay put in our homes. They mention our fearfulness and puff up with a kind of bravado as they boast that they are not worried. They taunt us by saying that we can just stay home as long as we wish as long as we leave them alone, give them their freedoms. They act as though we are the ignorant tyrants, the sheep who have fallen for perhaps the biggest hoax of all time. Even as I write this they are flocking to beaches and malls and gathering in large groups without masks or distancing as though to thumb their noses at those of us who are gravely concerned that their behavior will make our own isolation last even longer.

Right now all of the neighbors in my cul-de-sac are having a kind of celebration across the street. They are wonderful people and I would like more than anything to join them. Under any other circumstances I would already be there, but I observe that they are not wearing masks and they are seated too closely together. They seem to believe that there is no danger even though only a few days ago nine people from a nearby nursing home tested positive for Covid-19. They act as though they are unaware that our suburban area is among those with the highest number of cases from around Houston. They are young and mostly healthy so I suppose that they are feeling the urge to get on with life and just  allow me to hide away as I must surely seem to be doing.

What is my game? Why am I so wary? Perhaps it is because I will be seventy two in November and my husband will celebrate his seventy third birthday in September. He has heart disease and only recently underwent surgery to place stents in his heart. He has been told by his doctors to avoid going out or being in crowds. They don’t even want him to come to their offices. The teleconference with him instead. Even the local Cardinal of our church has asked that we not attend Sunday services now that they have resumed at twenty five percent capacity.

Maybe I am careful because I have a ninety one year old father-in-law who depends on me and my husband to help him. He’s looks exceptionally good to most people who see him but we know that he has a number of health issues and that he is slowing down considerably. We help him to get food and supplies and my husband keeps him updated on the technology that allows him to take care of business without leaving his home. We can neither afford to catch the virus nor accidentally infect him. It seems logical that we need to stay inside.

I have friends and relatives who are members of the medical community. They have not yet let down their caution and they urge me to be as vigilant as they are. They continue to worry that we are not yet in a safe place. I defer to their expertise because they have been correct about every other medical issue that I have presented to them. They are privy to information that most of us do not have. When they tell me to continue to take precautions I listen.

I have a grandson with asthma and I worry about him. I worry about other members of my family who have various and sundry issues. I know that I can’t allow my anxieties to overtake me and ordinarily I do not. This is different. We have been warned what may happen if we act to resume normalcy too soon and yet so many choose to ignore the very people who are most likely to have the answers. I suppose that some among us may actually have the luxury of risky behavior, but if I am to be responsible I have to face the fact that I cannot take the chances in which they are indulging.

So I sit dreaming as much as anyone else to leave the confines of isolation. I want to visit my one hundred one year old aunt who is all alone in her nursing home. I long to be back at church. I’d love nothing more than to go camping in my trailer or to travel to the Texas hill country to see my children and grandchildren. I want to teach my math students in person and have lunch with my grandson at his university. I’d love to walk through the mall and have dinner with friends. I want anyone who thinks that I am just silly or unduly afraid to understand that if I only had myself to consider I would already be out and about. What I know is that my careless actions may adversely affect many others. Therefore I stay inside. I wear my mask. I don my gloves and religiously wash my hands. I gaze longingly at the world that is moving outside. Maybe the ones celebrating their freedom are right and the experts on whom my decisions rely are all wrong. That’s not a chance that I am willing to take.

I will keep gazing at the world through a window. I hope that I won’t have to do this for very long, but my experts tell me that I am in for a long period of isolation. If I save even one person from the dangers of Covid-19 it will not have been in vain. 


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