Wild Despair

Surviving the perfect storm of COVID's tolls and racial roiling.

Posted Jul 05, 2020

Kathe Kollwitz, Wikimedia, Public Domain
Source: Kathe Kollwitz, Wikimedia, Public Domain

Today, we’re buffeted by a perfect storm: medical, economic, racial:

Fear of COVID—Smash!

Having or having a loved-one have COVID: Smash!

Suffering financially because of the COVID economic shutdown: Smash!

Being forced into lockdown for months, with it likely to continue, if only intermittently. Of course, that can bring such sequelae as weight gain, domestic violence, kids not getting much of an education, and loneliness from lack of human contact: Smash!

Racial roiling in the aftermath of the Floyd killing: Smash!

It’s enough to drive some people wild, internally or externally, from cruelty to a loved one to overreaction to strangers you don’t agree with.

Might any of the following help you shelter from the storm?


Get tested. It probably will provide reassurance. The large majority of people who get tested are negative. And if you’re positive, you can feel good about self-quarantining so you're a good citizen. Plus, if you become significantly symptomatic, your awareness will make you more likely to seek timely help.

Be a good citizen. Be a role model for moderation: Yes, wash your hands. Yes, wear a mask when not six feet apart or you're in an enclosed heavily peopled place such as a store. But there’s no need to overreact, for example, to wear a mask in your car nor to race across the street to avoid being within 10 feet for the mere moment you pass a pedestrian.

A vaccine is afoot. There is an unprecedented worldwide effort to create a vaccine, with a number already in Phase II and even the final Phase III trials. It’s just possible that COVID will end up as just another of the viruses covered in our annual “flu” vaccine.


Pare expenses?  Would you be calmer if you reviewed your expenses and cut what you’ve kept more out of habit than necessity: for example, that gym or club membership? Or perhaps cut more deeply, for example, rent out that spare bedroom or have your college freshman or sophomore transfer from expensive U to community college, which, fortunately, tends to offer better undergraduate teaching and ample extracurriculars at a fraction of the cost.

Use your network to find work? If you need to find work, use your network, which now, more than ever, tends to be the best job-door-opener. And because many people are less busy and more grateful if healthy physically and economically, they may be more likely to take the time to help you land a job.


Should you stop watching so much news?

Should you debate more or debate less with people with whom you don’t agree?

Should you focus on being kind?

Remember the lockdown’s silver linings, for example: expanded availability of the convenient telemedicine and online courses. Perhaps your workload is relaxed, and because of restrictions on get-togethers, concerts, and sports events, you have more time for such simple pleasures as walking, reading, and listening to music, finally decluttering that room, chatting with friends and loved ones, and—as my wife and I find ourselves doing—binge-watching great TV series. Our fave has been the BBC’s Call the Midwife. We never tire of seeing the midwives’ relentless goodness and especially the miracle of birth.

The takeaway

Because of COVID and the racial tensions, many of us are experiencing a perfect storm, a hurricane with a tornado near its eye. Ask yourself if any of the above might help you weather it without wild despair.

I read this aloud on YouTube.