Every so often, adverse things and events that had confronted us had been met with natural parrying and re-adjustment of both our position and direction. This innate talent to adapt and to shift gears when necessary had, throughout the ages, always been the reason why we, compared to other species, are where we are.
However, in the face of this present pandemic that threatens our very existence, this admirable survival trait may be imperiled as well. Not only by the virus itself, mind you, but by our very own comforting belief (or arrogance) that, as we have always proved time and again, we will eventually hold out and win through.
The equally-sad fact about this mindset however, is that the operative word “we”, does not pertain to humanity as a whole, but to us as individuals, a subjective few; specific people, places and countries where one belongs .
So, even with the world suddenly turned upside down, it is this strong sense of individualism that remains stubborn to submit, and refuses to die; almost like the virus we are presently up against.
With COVID-19, our years of being weaned to the “I do what I please” attitude does not suddenly seem to be so chic and hip anymore.
In an article, “I’ll do what I want”: Why the people ignoring social distancing orders just won’t listen, by Eleanor Cummins in Vox.com, she had hinted, “Our judgment could be clouded by Optimism Bias, the tendency to believe you are less likely than others to experience something negative.”
In a nutshell, the general affluence that the world had experienced as a whole, right after say, World War II, may have had somewhat molded a coat of invincibility in the general consciousness, with man contentedly sucking our thumbs inside the resulting womb of comfortability.
Because of this, plus other factors such as politics and religion, we have become complacent and terrible at assessing actual risks that come our way. More importantly, “It’s about our risk to others that might make it a little more difficult to understand.”, said Cynthia Rohrbeck, an associate professor in clinical and community psychology at George Washington University. This means that ‘taking responsibility’ for the health of others, as what is vital in this pandemic, isn’t at all part of the consciousness or included in many health discourses.
To make matters worse, the learnings from past epidemics and other related challenges do not apply in this instance. It has no precedent to use as a template. ‘No one alive today has ever experienced a pandemic of this severity.’ Still, a majority of us persist on the old formula that ” we can’t be beat. Life goes on.”
To only the people who will have survived this in the end will the answer finally be available; those who have chosen to break away from the vicious loop of comfortability that we have made ourselves.