by Kevin Burton
Some friends have asked my wife and me to take part in a major collaborative project this summer. We have taken a few timid steps toward being able to participate.
But none of the questions they have asked can be answered on their own terms. Covid 19 is the first and looming question.
And for me it brings up an even bigger question. How am I going to approach life this spring, summer and beyond?
Last March the Covid crisis brought with it a bunker mindset. Under penalty of death by germs, we learned to stay away from people, quadruple our cleaning efforts and wear a mask in public.
We also learned to get the household products we needed in larger quantities than we otherwise would, just in case of scarcity.
I have tried to be intelligent about quarantine. Even before the crisis, on my saner days I have tried to run every decision though a risk/reward analysis.
Now I am accustomed to this non-life. I don’t miss sitting in restaurants. I do miss karaoke, a little, but I’m not going to risk my life to sing a Bobby Vee song in front of strangers who will mostly ignore me anyway. I can sing in my basement.
As time went on in 2020, many fought what a Northwestern University professor calls “caution fatigue.”
Caution fatigue “occurs when people show low motivation or energy to comply with safety guidelines,” Professor Jacqueline Gollan told CNN.
“It’s reflected when we become impatient with warnings, or we don’t believe the warnings to be real or relevant, or we de-emphasize the actual risk,” Gollan said. “And in doing that, we then bend rules or stop safety behaviors like washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing.”
After so long in crisis mode, your brain is wired to say “enough already” and go back to previous behavior patterns. But the virus is not wired like that. It is still killing people worldwide.
I became incensed when the pastor at a church we used to attend, started encouraging/pressuring people to return to attending church in person, saying, “We’re better together.”
No fake. That’s the way you do church, you go, to be with the family of God.
But we have a pandemic here, wiping out hundreds of thousands of Americans. Proximity in enclosed spaces, to other people who may be carrying the virus is a major threat to health and life.
This not a terribly difficult concept. Let me break it down here:
Church is church, you go in person for instruction and fellowship. That’s how it’s always been done.
A deadly, contagious Covid 19 virus serves as an open parenthesis to a (we hope) temporary new era, where we go to church via the internet.
The close parenthesis is not “pastor misses the good old days.” The close parenthesis is the end of the virus threat; because the virus dissipated or the population became vaccinated or whatever.
Easy concept, no?
At all times it was in my power to say, “Well we disagree with what you’re saying pastor and we’re not going to attend in person yet” and leave it at that.
Why I got so furious about it I cannot tell you, except to say, the virus crisis has heightened emotions of all kinds.
That’s where I am anyway. It will take some time to peel apart this hardened bunker mentality.
Of course, my risk/reward filter works better if I can assess the risk. We have multiple vaccines now. But vaccinated people have turned up positive for Covid. So how much protection is there? What about the new strains?
God willing, I will get my second vaccine shot early next month. But what exactly does that mean? How much of the former passions and priorities can we afford to go back to?
Which takes me all the way back to the big project. I plan to talk more about this project whether we participate or not. As of today, nothing is certain, nothing is set.