Sunday, March 22, 2020
Good morning and happy Sunday. I hope you all enjoyed a Happy (and quiet) St Patrick’s Day!
Like all Americans, and many people around the world, I am doing my part to social distance myself from others. I am remaining home as much as possible. Luckily, since my girlfriend just moved in, we have plenty of boxes to unpack. Cooking meals together is fun as well. I have been shopping for supplies a couple of times and enjoy running at the beach. The times in nature are so beneficial for me, physically, mentally and spiritually. We are ALL affected by this virus outbreak. When I say “all” I am referring to all humans on this planet. The effects are (and will be) far reaching, not only in sickness and death, but in every socio-economic part of our lives. We must all do our best to support ourselves, our nation and the world
About a month ago I watched a Netflix documentary, “Pandemic.” I was telling my girlfriend about it. Her sarcastic response was, “Thanks for brightening my day.” The documentary outlined the grim possibilities associated with a worldwide event. Our information about the coronavirus was just getting ramped up at the time I watched this. There was still much uncertainty, misinformation and things we did not know. Now, things are quite different. Many cities and countries, like the USA, are on lock down and quarantined. These are indeed interesting, crazy and sad times; taking us into uncharted territories.
During the first weeks of the virus outbreak my goal was to maintain life as normal as possible. It was not my intention to write about it or what was happening as a result. The events this past week, especially after watching the daily White House Task Force briefings, caused me to rethink this. Now, I have to comment, as our lives are upended. The daily televised reports from the White House are a great benefit and informative. The team assembled by the President are doing an amazing job. They are knowledgeable experts in their fields and working hard to ensure our nation is safe. Having worked in a large bureaucracy, getting things done quickly is a task. All indications show the task force is working diligently to get things done (such as producing protective gear and medicines). Their efforts should be applauded. What is annoying are the repetitive daily questions and sometimes disrespect displayed by journalists in attendance. It was nice to watch Saturday’s briefing, as the President put a couple reporters in their place. There are many fantastic journalists doing amazing work. My cousin, at the Voice of America, is one of the great ones. These people report the news with passion in an unbiased manner.
In a time of uncertainty, I wish the news media would be working together, focused on honest and accurate news reporting. A streamlined and more managed question period needs to be implemented, as the shouting of reporters to be selected is just ridiculous. Fear and anxiety are having an overwhelming impact on many. In such a short period of time people have shown their true colors. Between the news media and some politicians, it has been a toss-up who to believe or who created the most anxiety. The other issue are the people posting false or slanted information on the internet and social media sites. These irresponsible acts create further stress and spread like wildfire. Some people read these posts believing it’s the gospel and repost without verifying sources or truth. None of this helps; often creating further uncertainty, misunderstanding and fear. Let’s not forget the criminal element and all the scams and fraudulent activity via internet, emails, posts and calls. Keep yourself safe and verify sources before moving forward. Sad times. The last few weeks have not been easy for anyone, here or across the globe.
I have witnessed some slanted media coverage over the years. Depending on who owns the news organization or network, they tend to add their particular agenda to stories. This can be true among some politicians too. There are many questions. I know journalists provide a service in reporting the news for us all. What I do not agree with are some of the tactics utilized, by either themselves or the news companies that bring the stories to the public. In the initial reporting, after the virus erupted on our shores, in my opinion, some of this reporting brought less than a calm state of mind. Redundant and useless information was tossed out from morning to night. This serves to further create an uneasy and apprehensive society.
Drama, fear and doom seems to mesmerize people and capture their attention. The unfortunate part, this virus does not need any extra hype. It is real, fast spreading and can be deadly. I have lived in and around the Los Angeles area all my life. Rain showers create massive media events here. Yes, there can be mud slides or floods, but the media has a unique way to spin reports that create fear before it even occurs. The mere threat of traffic, inclement weather, fires, natural disasters, events or just about anything bring that media fearful twist. Why? Fear sells. I don’t blame the media. Their job is to report the news. The sad part is how some add their own twists to outdo the other guys. Ratings and money seem to be a part of their agenda, even in difficult times. I am all for accurate and fair reporting of any and all news. Please just let it be that.
Being in my mid 60’s means I have witnessed and lived through a variety of major events. It started while I was in elementary school. The Cuban missile crisis in October 1962 set the tone for an already fearful world. The Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union (and its communist allies) was at its height. The USSR parked a bunch of missiles in Cuba, just off the Florida coast. The 13-day confrontation created fear and anxiety. I remember doing missile attack drills in elementary school. The teacher would yell, “Get under your desk!” We would scramble for shelter beneath our flimsy wood desks. I doubt they would have offered much protection from a nuclear attack. Some people had backyard bomb shelters built, but I do not recall witnessing panic buying like I have seen today.
Other events throughout the years fueled fear and anxiety. In 1965, the United States involvement in the Vietnam War began. It continued until 1973. There have been hurricanes, tornados, volcanic eruptions, natural disasters and horrific events. On February 9, 1971, a powerful earthquake (6.5) struck Sylmar, California (just north of Los Angeles) in 1971. That was followed up by another destructive earthquake (6.7) in Northridge (just several miles from Sylmar) on January 17, 1994. I lived near both epicenters. There have been major brush fires, around this area, for as long as I can remember. What I do not remember is the hysteria created, as we are seeing with this particular virus.
I recognize how people can become easily influenced by a mentality created by fear. I have witnessed this several times during my law enforcement career. It is not a pretty sight. The media and political fueled events, sometimes go beyond the true severity. Hysteria and fear sells. Today we enjoy instant delivery of information in the age of technological. News, weather and anything we want is at our fingertips, as soon as we grab our cell phone or laptop.
Yes, the coronavirus is serious. It has nothing to do with politics, race, creed or color. I’m happy politics are not an issue (for the most part). The virus does not spell doomsday for the world. Together we can get through this. Take the proper precautions and do the right thing. Protect yourself and your family. This does not mean buying everything you can. There are plenty of people out there that need food and supplies. There are others that do not possess the resources or ability to immediately gather what they need. Think of the elderly, disabled or others that need more time. They may need additional time or money to get to the store. Think of how they feel when they arrive after stores have been emptied. The impulsive actions of a few create a tidal wave effect. Others follow thinking there won’t be anything left for them. Soon all stores are depleted for no reason. The entire TP thing is just crazy.
I have seen the unsettled and disrespectful actions by some people, buying and hoarding all they can. Where do those values come from? Who created the urgency for people to feel the need to rush out and buy massive amounts of toilet paper, food and water? This is not the time to push, shove or fight over items easily obtained. Now is the time to remain calm and follow the guidelines to limit the rapid spread of the virus. Be a kind person. Seek to assist others. Be who you’d want caring for your parents or grandparents.
There is much to digest during the social distancing period. Information is hitting us from every angle 24/7. Take the time to absorb the news rationally, allow time for self-reflection and be grateful for all we have. Our stores are massive, with plenty of food and choices. There are many countries that do not share our abundance. The quarantine affords us the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with our family. Share that time wisely. Be thankful for our medical personnel, store employees, delivery workers, first responders, military and all those working daily to ensure we have what we need and provide for our safety.
I am more than willing to do my part to slow the spread of the virus. What I don’t like are irrational decisions made by state and local politicians. Our Federal leadership team set into motion a two-week quarantine plan for the nation. These actions are intended to slow the spread and flatten the curve of the virus. Why does California Governor Newsome feel he knows better, basically locking up the state for an unknown amount of time? His initial declaration on Thursday night was 30-day stay at home order. That was eased as of Friday morning to an undetermined amount of time. His projections for sickness and death in the state further fuel the anxiety here. My heart hurts for those with businesses here, and everyone with families. Sad and uncertain times.
Decisions like this fuel and create additional hysteria, as much as the 24/7 coverage of the media. I understand why the Federal government made the decision for a two-week quarantine and they will re-evaluate. Shutting California down for an undetermined amount of time will have a huge impact on millions of people. The coronavirus will run its course and dissipate over time. Let’s do our best to limit the rapid spread and potentially save some lives in the process. To minimize stress and anxiety, go outside and enjoy nature. Yoga, meditation, exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle will offer relief. Do the right thing; especially for your family and other humans sharing similar feelings, emotions and fears. This is our planet. Let’s love it as much as we love ourselves.
Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more! The healthy life puzzle is always in rotation. Let’s be healthy and strong mentally, physically and spiritually!
Thanks for your love and support! Embrace Life! Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!