My colleague and friend, veterinarian Dr. Liz Bales, sent me this guest post in response to the coronavirus situation. I’ve previously written about pet diseases that can make you sick, but the COVID-19 goes way beyond that. While not exactly the plague, it has been defined as a worldwide pandemic. Scary stuff. And… the letter, below, shares exactly how many of us feel.
Dear Science, We Owe You An Apology.
We hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive us and help us. We need you now.
Science, we forgot that we need you. We were doing so well and feeling so secure that we started to believe you were the problem and not the solution. Science, you are mostly generations of nameless, faceless introverts who devote your lives to extensive and expensive education, and labs, and experiments. When we don’t need you, you are boring.
While we are out living our safe, healthy childhoods, you spend your youth “buckling down” and getting the grades and experience you will need to stand on the shoulders of the science that has come before you. You know that a science is not made overnight but is formed by decades of hard work in classrooms and laboratories. In young adulthood, while we are going to our jobs, our parties, and our vacations, you are struggling to get into the best programs, studying around the clock and putting your life on hold to gain the knowledge you need to do your job to save us. For this, most of you get the thanks of hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt.
Science, most of us really can’t understand.
You spent all that time learning a language that we cannot speak and are afraid to hear. You know that real answers cannot come in bullet points but are complicated and nuanced. That overwhelms and frightens us, so we look for reassurance from sources that comfort us.
We feel comfort in certainty. We like spokespeople with big smiles and dynamic personalities that use words and concepts we can relate to – even if they are wrong. We would rather feel safe than be safe.
And, Science, you have done your job so well that we feel safe almost all of the time. It’s only in history books that we can read about plagues and outbreaks and uncontrolled mass suffering, and we don’t really like to read history books anyway. You built your knowledge from serving through mass health disasters, caring for the sick, collecting the necessary data and finding the cures. So, ya’ know, thanks. But, the past is the past. We are safe now, and we need to move on.
When we feel safe and healthy, we don’t remember the past.
We think that the vast resources necessary to support you are absurd and we take them back. We don’t understand that you, Science, require an ongoing infrastructure of devoted, educated people, and laboratories, and systems, and research, pharmacological production, and hospitals and…. Well, you see it’s endless and dizzying and expensive and we don’t understand that once we take those things away, they can’t be put back together in a few days, or weeks or maybe even years to deal with a novel health crisis.
When we are safe and healthy, you become the enemy. Not only are you too expensive and “just In it for the money,” but all we need to do your job is a Google search! Who needs you?!?! And the vaccines that ended the mass deaths in the history books that we forgot to read, might in some very rare instances, cause a problem. We don’t understand “herd immunity,” and the risk of one in a million is too much to take when you are safe from the plague until you are not.
So, dear Science, will you accept our apology? We really need you now.
We need you to learn as fast as you can about what is going on with COVID-19. Is it really dangerous? How dangerous? Not at all, and we have foolishly shut down our global and domestic economy? Or do we need to go into global quarantine to save humanity? Ok, we know that we took away your resources, and infrastructure, and blame you for everything. but, can you hurry up, Science? We really need you now.
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