May 23, 2020–
One of the major pitfalls of viewing life strictly through a digital lens is that three of the five physical senses are left hanging-thus depriving the sixth sense, intuition, of what it needs to be validated. Lack of touch, taste and smell deprives the mind of nuance, which is intuition’s best friend.
So, we have the minor spectacles of the “Karens” and “Nervous Nellies”, on both Right and Left, making and passing judgments about events in places far from their abodes-even places to which they’ve never been, about people whom they’ve never met.
Of course, we’ve probably all done it, at one time or another. I have expressed loud disapproval of cruel acts committed against children and animals, or the depredations of sex traffickers and overzealous abortionists. My only defense is that I have spoken on behalf of innocents.
COVID-19 has brought this phenomenon to a boil. People in small towns and cities, relatively unaffected by the pandemic, in terms of actual infection rates, can make the case for THEIR communities to not adopt the same regimens as large cities-or close-knit rural areas, such as the Navajo Nation or the Amish communities, where large families share living space.
Likewise, those large urban areas and large family groups do well to take stringent measures, in combating infection. They do not need to take, to heart, the objections of people in less densely populated areas, to those measures.
In this time of trial, and of restricted travel, chances are that neither really, deep-down, comprehends what the other is enduring. Rural people feel the bite of a slowed down economy, in ways that that people in larger communities do not- and vice versa. We have each been hit by a different sack of bricks.
People like the Navajo, their neighbours-the Hopi, Zuni, Southern Paiute and Ute, as well as countless other First Nations tribes, the aformentioned Amish, Appalachian Whites and Blacks in the rural South tend to get the worst of both situations-geographic isolation AND no safe harbour from living in close-quarters.
Those in densely-populated cities in the East and Midwest, as well as the major urban areas of the West and South, are enduring real-time catastrophes, in ways that those in the rural Midwest and West can barely comprehend. The converse is also true. Those who feel the fright of dealing with a loss of income, due to a pandemic which has otherwise scarcely affected their communities, are right to voice that fright.
I feel it is time for one and all to take stock of the other’s situation, knowing that we can not have a full-on understanding of that experience. With that knowledge, let us set our emotional reactions to what we see and hear, about far-off events, aside. Take several deep breaths. How long, and to what measure, New York, Los Angeles and the Navajo Nation are in lockdown should not be the target of the objections of people in the Great Plains and non-Indian Mountain West. Neither should the reopening of Arizona, Montana and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan be grist for the anguish of those in communities that are still struggling with COVID-so long as people from reopened areas don’t descend on the war zones, or vice-versa.
Only grasping the nuance of the other person’s experience can bring understanding.