Do we stay in lockdown till there is a vaccine to keep everyone safe, or do we lift restrictions to stimulate the economy and help those who are suffering from the adverse economic and mental health effects of the lockdown?
Hopefully, you recognize a false dichotomy when you see one. The link above gives a great, non-partisan, science-based perspective on where we are with the pandemic, what we should be doing, what the risks are, and a few possible scenarios for where things may go from here.
Please remember, many people may have an opinion about where we are and where we are going, but no one knows. Just because someone guesses right, does not mean that they knew something. If I guess heads during a coin toss and get it right, it does not say I knew the outcome of the toss.
The people who know something about science and medicine are not making statements about where things are going. They talk about probabilities and likelihoods and make comparisons with past outbreaks and pandemics.
In other words, they know enough to know they don’t know. As many of you have heard me say in the past, this is a very enlightened place to be, not just when it comes to this pandemic, but with regards to all things in life. As Socrates used to say, “as, for me, I know that I know nothing.”
Lockdown is not sustainable, and so is not a long-term solution. However, the virus is not going anywhere anytime soon. A vaccine, if one is even found, is at best a year away. So we have to learn to live with the virus while getting on with living our lives. This situation is not an easy thing to do, and as the article I’ve linked to points out, there are no easy answers or magic bullets.
Buddhism is often called “the middle way” because, at it’s best, it avoids the extremes of asceticism on the one hand and hedonism and self-indulgence on the other. I feel that this pandemic is asking our very divided country not to take sides right now. We are being asked to walk the middle path between the extremes of locking everything down until we know it’s safe, and merely opening everything up and hoping we reach heard immunity before the healthcare system collapses.
So do we open things back up? Yes. Do we continue to take precautionary measures and social distance? Yes. Do things go back to how they were before the pandemic? No.
My advice, spend as much time outdoors as you can right now. It is good for both your mental and physical health and is relatively safe. If there is a ‘second wave’ in the fall and winter, you will likely regret not getting out more while you could.
Thanks to our sangha member Deborah Gates for bringing this article to my attention.
-Douglas Johnson E-RYT 500, YACEP