In the new corona world, Americans are beginning to ask how to balance lives vs. living and livelihood. After all, we accept that we must balance that equation elsewhere–why not with the coronavirus? If we wanted to reduce the annual slaughter on our highways, 37K died in 2018, we would take the max highway speed back limit to 55 mph. With 30% of those deaths alcohol related, we could make the penalty for the first DUI a year’s license suspension, and the second a lifetime forfeiture. But we don’t. Cars killed 740 bicyclists that year, but bike lanes with barriers are virtually nonexistent. As a society, we frequently balance cost and convenience vs. lives.
Remember concepts like “No man is an island.” and Six Degrees of Separation?
Where do we draw the line between threatening the lives of others, and living the life we want?
That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode.
We do indeed make frequent and constant trade offs between cost and convenience on one hand, and lives on the other. The previous examples are just a few among many. No, we may not think about these tradeoffs in such stark terms, or, perhaps even think about them at all, but there they are regardless.
And we make decisions about how to handle ourselves in the face of these tradeoffs. We choose to drive on highways with speed limits well in excess of 55 mph. We drive at night knowing that more drunks are on the road after dark. Many of us ride our bikes on the roads. We choose to engage in those activities.
With the coronavirus, no one chose to be in an at-risk group. But there they are anyway. Does not having a choice about being in the at-risk COVID-19 group change where the balance point is between cost and convenience on one hand and life and death on the other? I would make the case that indeed it does. And we should take that into consideration every time we as individuals or as a society look at how long we suffer from economic hardship vs. the number of lives we can save. Economies recover; rigor mortis is forever.
I am not afraid to die; COVID-19 has not changed that. I would strongly prefer to live, but death holds no fear for me. I am terrified, absolutely terrified, of leaving this earth before I have finished my work with my family, a family in multiple states. And I have much work left to do. Happy work. Needed work. Closing my eyes for the last time will come to me sooner or later, as it will to everyone. Closing my eyes with a family member saying in body language or out loud, “Don’t go, not now, please, please don’t go!” is a whole different world. Add to that the thought of being in isolation for days or weeks prior, where I cannot comfort my family and other visitors, the terrible feelings mount.
I wash my hands frequently, and venture out of the house infrequently. I wipe the car down with disinfectant cloths when I return. I do not touch my face until after I have washed my hands upon my return. My handwashing–the first thing that I do–seems to last long enough to play Stairway to Heaven. I have ordered disposable gloves; when I retrieve packages from the front steps, I will don the gloves, remove the outer packaging over the trash and recycling bins, then toss the gloves.
My precautions help to protect my family, and anyone else I happen to come to be near.
Today’s Key Point: We are all in this together. Working or not. Spring Breaker or not. One of those who protest, “This is just the flu.” or someone who thinks a million will die in the US alone. We are all in this together. Quoting John Donne, “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Many of us are taking similar precautions; some more, some less–others nothing. When we wash our hands, or don’t; when we keep our social distance, or when we don’t–we do it for everyone. Remember the Six Degrees of Separation concept? Six degrees of separation is the idea that all living things and everything else in the world are six or fewer steps away from each other so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. When we take care of ourselves, we are only six degrees of separation from everyone we are helping. And if we do not take care of ourselves in these corona days, we are only six degrees of separation from those whom we harm.
Does hanging out in crowds, Spring Break or church, hold the real potential to harm others? Might returning to work too soon do the same? When can our kids return to school without harming others? Where do we draw the line between threatening the lives of others, and living the life we want?
John Donne would say that if we harm others, we harm ourselves. The Six Degrees of Separation holds what if we cause harm, we are only six degrees of separation away from those we hurt.
What do you say? Are you with John Donne? The Six Degrees of Separation concept? Have entirely different thoughts? I, and others who read or listen to Revolution 2.0™, care–and want to know your thoughts.
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.