Day Sixteen: It’s an Outrage!

Two of ’em aren’t even facing the right way!

I had to alter my run for the second time in a row today. Jefferson County Open Space tells us that their parks are open, but that if the lot is full, you have to move on. As tempting as it is to rationalize, I have to assume this means me, even though I am not bringing a car to the party. Others are making different decisions.

A lot of folks in my town are upset because people from the city 30-odd miles east of us are coming up to use our parks. A lot of people are upset because so many are ignoring the mask rule, and hoarding groceries. And it is upsetting, too, to see groups on the trails that are very unlikely to be from the same household. They’re taking a risk, not only for themselves, but for the rest of us.

When I was a kid there was a bumper sticker kicking around that said: “if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” At the time, whenever I saw this I would think “damn right!” Now I think it should read “if you’re not outraged, you’re either not paying attention, or you’re just too damned tired.”

Humans do love to get outraged. It gives us a lovely feeling of self-righteousness. The quick and dirty way to make yourself part of an in-group (a necessity in our evolutionary environment), is to define someone else as the other. Dogging on the out-group is like the quikcrete of social bonding.

But I ran across this meme online yesterday. I’m not normally one to engage with sappy content, but this is important.

A lot of us are outraged by people who, it seems, are not taking this as seriously as we think they should. The thing is, if someone is trying really hard to pretend things are normal, they’re scared. If someone is violating self-isolation to spend time with friends and family, they’re probably scared, too. If someone is in denial, they’re scared. If someone is poo-poohing the science, it’s probably because they’re scared.

So I have to give myself the advice I gave to the kindergarten kids when I was subbing. Who do I have control over? Just me, and sometimes even that is arguable. I can’t control what anyone else does in this crisis. All I can control is how I react and what I do. And so I smile at the people without masks, and I smile at people going out in groups that have way too many adults for them to plausibly live together. I smile at the people coming from cars parked alongside the road.

All of this means all of nothing, of course, because no one can see me smiling behind my mask. But it does make me feel better.

Signing off. Take care, and take care of one another.

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