Choose respect over fear

My son is a cub scout, and I am a den leader. Recently our den met outside and practiced putting up tents and learned how to build a fire. With efforts to stay distanced, every scout made his own s’more, and we had such a fun time.

One highlight of the evening was letting each scout try to light the fire. We went through a series of mistakes with the matches, and thankfully no one got hurt. They were so proud to learn how to light a match and start a fire. However, it was also daunting for them. One scout specifically commented on how excited he was and how scared he was. I tried to teach safe techniques and explained how you do not need to fear fire, but you do need to respect it.

Approaching something with respect rather than fear is helpful in so many things in life. Whether it be a wild animal, fire, or a weapon, cautious respect is usually more helpful than fear. Education and experience, without losing that caution and respect, may be lifesaving.

Those principles could be helpful as we cope with COVID-19. Depending on your situation, you may not be afraid, or you could be overcome with fear. On the one hand, fear could paralyze us and cripple our response. On the other hand, a complete disregard for measures to help decrease the virus’s spread is like being careless with fire. We all want to return to normalcy and a healthy, physically, mentally, socially, and economical life. However, cases are on the rise and denial of reality and a disregard for others is fuel for the fire.

Many people’s efforts to decrease the spread, such as social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, and being careful, help to give scientists more time to research treatments and vaccinations. Progress is being made, and so many people are united in the same goal of getting through this pandemic, safely, together.

Recently I was visiting with a 98-year-old man. I asked him about this pandemic and what he experienced in the Great Depression and World War II. He was confident we would get through this. We will succeed if we do not let ourselves become divided, but work together, treating the virus with caution, and supporting those around us.

Andrew Ellsworth is a family physician.

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