Certainty in Uncertain Times

Finding some certainty among the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic

There’s a lot we don’t know about what’s happening right now and there are plenty of things we don’t know about what’s to come.

While we know it’s bad, we don’t know, truly, how many cases of Covid-19 there are in this country right now or how many there were when many states started imposing stay-at-home orders in March. Without that information, we’re going ahead and returning to some kind of “normal” that features face masks and social distance and plenty of fear and anxiety.

We know we need a vaccine, but we don’t know how long it’s going to take to develop it (but it is going to be a while) and we don’t know how we’re going to be able to get it everyone.

We know the economy is a dumpster fire right now, but we don’t know how long it’s going to burn and we don’t know if it’s going to end up taking down everything around it.

While I don’t (shouldn’t?) expect anyone to have all the answers when it comes to navigating our way through a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic that has already taken the lives of more than 100,000 people in the United States, I know we need leadership. I know we need down-to-earth, approachable, understandable guidance. We need the adults in the room to act like it and to focus on the very important task of helping us get through this together.

While I definitely do not have all the answers, I am certain of a handful of things. And I am absolutely clinging to them as we rinse and repeat our way through what feels like that tie tying montage at the beginning of the movie “Up.

I know love is helping. Believe me, I know how easy it is to let the fear creep in and spread out, leading you down a hours-long rabbit’s hole of developments about coronavirus cases and projections about the current economic chaos. I also know that focusing on my family, including my soon-to-be seventh grade son, helps me to get out of bed, make my way to the kitchen and ask, “Who’s ready for a good day?” Focusing on those we love, I think, should help us make good decisions about everything from wearing masks to avoiding large parties.

I know we’re going to be here for a while. Even if we don’t know exactly how long it’s going to take to develop an effective vaccine, we do know it’s not going to be tomorrow. I guess it’s a good thing I committed to “patience” at the beginning of 2020. But this is hard, especially for those of us who do best when we have “something to look forward to.” Sadly, as we’ve seen time and again, Americans are terrible at waiting.

I know we’re ready for change. The old way of doing things -- capitalism without a conscience -- helped get us here and here and we’ve got to stop doing them. We can’t be the Americans who salute the Greatest Generation while allowing them to die, alone, in hospitals and nursing home facilities across the country. We can’t be the Americans who spend time, during a global freaking pandemic, jabbing and poking at political rivals. We can’t be the Americans who allow the insurance industry to profit from a public health crisis that is robbing people of their health as well as their ability to mourn lost family and friends.

Instead, we have to be the Americans who help each other. We have to be more interested in building up each other instead of pushing down others so that we can get ahead. Less judging and more sympathizing. Less demanding and more offering. Less me and more us.

Amy Bailey was a member of the Michigan Capitol Press Corps from 2000-2006. She lives and works in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with her husband, son and an easily excitable Australian Shepherd named Max. Amy's guest column, Something to Say, publishes periodically. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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