Tired? The Cluster of the Pandemic

I was listening to a podcast this morning and the host asked something about “What effect has the pandemic had on women in the workplace?” Shortly after that, there was a story of the effect of COVID on Puerto Rican pregnant women, and I realized that there are so many things we will never know about the virus and its effects, simply because there are too many variables. Are we talking about Puerto Rican women in Texas? They’d be different from Puerto Rican women in Florida or Puerto Rican women in Puerto Rico. There are differences in health care based on location, medical care, insurance coverage, politics in the locale, and so many different genetics to be taken into account.

I have a friend who teaches likes to do research and I thought about her and her knowledge of stats, and I thought… “No way!”. In response to this, I began to draw a diagram of all the variables and things that need to be taken into account in life. This is that drawing:

As the chart grew more complex, I began to think of my clients and all they have had to deal with. It became apparent that COVID’s effects were “one giant cluster**** ” as they would say.

This led me to diagram it that way — in clusters of concentric circles — and that picture looks like this:

All of those little rectangular bubbles are things that you and I had to cope with during the last 2 years of this pandemic. The diagram could be thought of as a map of our thoughts in the pandemic. Every day in the news brought some issue or another to cope with — many for the first time ever. Besides the categories, there were the stories and the cycles of motion through the sectors. That would be us in the middle of the diagram.

For instance, a nurse or a doctor could be medical staff, giving aid. Then they could become patients receiving aid. If they survived their bout with COVID or multiple shifts of patient care, they would become exhausted and require Mental Health services, which were no longer available in person, but were via telehealth, a field that didn’t really exist prior to this. The learning curve for the whole of society was steep for a long while.

The government, under Trump, took a political approach to COVID, while under Biden it has taken a scientific approach. The same entities — CDC, the Office of the President, and The Presidential Task Force on COVID — were tossed in and out of different spheres. Sadly, so were the American people. Regular Americans can only process so much information, and there was simply too much to think about and feel about, so those of one political persuasion chose to go with the feelings only and they feel fear and anxiety often, causing them to act out their feelings. The other group chose the scientific way of coping, which left them alive but intellectually exhausted. By the third wave of COVID, we were all beyond our limits in dealing with all of this stuff.

Because I am a liberal Christian ahead of other things, (and because I like things simple, when possible) I looked for some moral view of the cluster that we have all lived through. In my head were two songs: “We Shall Overcome” and “Which Side Are You On?”. The songs were interchangeable in my head, with the lyrics of “Which Side Are You On?” to the tune of “We Shall Overcome”…. That picture is one I hesitate to draw (and so, won’t here), but the question that remains was this: Were you pro-solution or were you anti-solution to the pandemic? Did you get and give misinformation that made things worse or did you try to use credible information to make decisions about the pandemic? Were you more about your “freedom” to create a super-spreader event regardless of people’s conditions or were you were more about caring for others as best you could and willing to put up with the inconvenience/pain of it all. Are more people dead because of your actions, hypothetically, or are more people alive because of your actions, hypothetically? In other words, which side are you on?

The early church used to have as its statement of faith that “God sets before us the ways of life and death”. COVID is one more example of those choices.

Having said that, I don’t believe that death can ever be the final word, so here’s the question: which side will you be on? If, during this two year period, you have chosen the ways of death and you’re still alive, how are you going to fix what you have destroyed? If you’re a politician or a former patient who yelled at the doctor or nurse saving you because you wanted Ivermectin instead of the care you were getting — and they kept you alive and helped you get better anyway — what are you going to do now? Can you become a nurse or a doctor or a Patient Care Advocate? Will you? Can you learn about other disease and not spread bad information? Will you? Can you help out in a hospital or a social work agency to give back? Will you? You owe it to all the others who were affected by the cluster we just experienced , and maybe it’ll help if you were on the other side for a while — the giving side, not the taking side. Consider the life you have and what you’re going to do about it.

Resisting with peace of mind, sort of…

John