Discombobulation

May 22, 2020

Discombobulation was a term used by one of the more effective teachers, in my junior high days, to describe the constant shifting of one’s physical or social situation, without allowing for a reasonable explanation or period of adjustment.

The notion that change is a constant is widely understood. What does not seem to be as well understood are the notions that opinions can evolve and that people can’t be typecast by their ethnicities, genders, generations or even prior stances on issues.

Much is being made about the constantly changing positions of the president, some members of Congress, some state governors and some medical authorities, with respect to COVID19. I attribute most of that clamouring to fear of the unknown and a desire for some measure of consistency, that people may deal successfully with the disease, in their own spheres.

The public state of affairs caused by the pandemic, as well as the virus itself, are evolving, continuously. Thus, people, including those in positions of authority, need to be afforded some measure of flexibility, in their public pronouncements and in their assessments of the situation. This virus has variously presented us with a clearcut roadmap for flattening the curve of infections and hospitalizations, followed by what appears to be an insidious game of Whack-A-Mole.

There is, almost as a sideshow, the spectacle of the presumptive Democratic candidate for president making what he now says is an offhand remark, regarding the qualifications for being “black”. Whitesplaining is odious, in any context, and introducing a measure of cognitive dissonance, into the lives of African-Americans who have conservative political views, makes it even more so. I’ve pointed out, in a different context, that there are liberals, conservatives and all point in between, in every given community.

We each have our opinions, on just about everything. The fact that we have them, or that we feel strongly about them, doesn’t make them right. The fact that we are free to change these opinions, hopefully in light of new information, doesn’t mean that we are suddenly either in grievous error-or imbued with wisdome from on high.

Change is ever a constant.

14 thoughts on “Discombobulation

  1. I think that, for me, the most difficult thing about this pandemic has been the lack of consistency of message between the President and the experts and the State decision makers. What we know about Covid-19 has changed constantly as time has gone by and we’ve had more time to learn — I get that — but what has not been helpful has been the continual banter with the President saying things and immediately walking them back, or his contradicting the strong guidance of the experts. This has caused people to widely ignore the guidance of the scientists (experts) as to how to protect ourselves and others, and how to move forward in an ever-changing world of uncertainty.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve been angry enough to express my thoughts, but I finally blew up the other evening over a meeting which was not properly announced, and then announced incorrectly, with changes that were never stated, and inadequate explanations. I think this was in large part brought on by the uncertainties and inconsistencies mentioned above, both for me, and for the people leading the meeting, who unfortunately took the brunt of my anger.

    Through all of this, and whatever your faith, most people are desirous of having some control of our lives — the sudden change to having no consistency of messaging has created a situation in which we have no control — how do I protect myself or others when I have no control over anything?!

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    • We certainly have found ourselves at the “mercy” of those who are no better equipped to run a program than a bunch of middle schoolers would be. I hope your “powers that be” can get their act together, before people in your community get really hurt. In our city, the mayor has been on message, consistently, through this crisis. Losing a loved one, during this crisis, no doubt has increased his alacrity. I see that Dr. Fauci has reached the point where he regards the long-term leadership out of this pandemic will be primarily local.

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      • LA and State leaders have been very clear and very consistent. People have not liked their message, but it’s been straight forward and to the point. OC not so strong, but basically following the State lead. The harm was done with the shutdown, when suddenly half the State had no jobs and not really any prospects for jobs after it’s all over. The mixed messaging I referred to comes straight from Washington — and I’ve not been watching as much news as I was — that helps, as I can watch the Gov and have a pretty good idea of what’s happening. And the HOA meeting was just a red herring of the same ilk as everything else! I’m doing better now, I think!!

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      • That is one thing about Governors Newsom, Cuomo, Pritzker, Whitmer-and De Wine. They have been straight up with their messages and expectations-as has the Navajo Nation’s President, Jonathan Nez. The White House has been like the cartoons of my childhood-follow the bouncing ball. I stopped watching his royal ——-, after the third broadcast.

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      • That’s a good group of leaders you’ve mentioned. But speaking of the Navajo Nation, what is causing the hot spot among the Navajo Nation, a relatively isolated group of people?

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      • The Navajo have a tradition of large extended families living together, in close quarters. This is similar to what many urban Chinese or South Asian immigrants do, when first arriving in North America or Europe.

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      • And yet it’s interesting that there is virtually no incidence of covid-19 in San Francisco’s Chinatown, where density is high and infused by travel from China during the early days of the pandemic.

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  2. Discombobulated: A favorite word. I am having emotional and cognitive dissonance fatigue with the disfunction of WH leadership. Prayers and following the science and leaders who are showing compassion helps to keep me grounded

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  3. I have to be cautious that I don’t develop “cognitive dissonance” which is often the result of discombobulation – in that new information makes the old information obsolete and I need to be able to let go of mistaken or incorrect statements. If I can’t then I move toward dissonance and that is a most painful state. So flexibility is the key and keeping an eye on sources/reliability of information….

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