Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. My Immune Response

 

The idea of vaccination is to present the immune system with a mild challenge, something that resembles a dangerous pathogen but isn’t one, and thereby stimulate an adaptive response that leaves the immune system better able to handle the real pathogen, if and when it ever arrives. We don’t yet have a COVID-19 vaccine. But for me, there is a metaphorical sense in which COVID-19 is a vaccine.

I am a creature of habit. I cling to my routines and rituals, finding comfort in the familiar. But at the same time, I crave change, I thrive on new and different experiences, and I derive satisfaction from learning things. And so there is a constant tension in my life, as my preference for the comfortable and familiar leaves me feeling bored and stuck in a rut.

But a little more than two months ago, all routines were forcibly suspended, and any ruts I might have been in vanished. Mind you, I am conscious of the fact that I am one of the lucky ones: our household income has not been affected, and my wife and I can both easily work from home. We do not have small children to care for. We are essentially homebodies; my idea of a perfect Friday night is to eat takeout restaurant food while watching a movie on Netflix. I know that a lot of people are suffering far worse than we are. If it weren’t for shortages at the grocery store and the closure of some of our favorite restaurants, we could do this indefinitely.

Nonetheless, this forcible disruption of my routines has been like a reset button. Because we aren’t going to restaurants, I’m cooking some new and different things. My optometrist closed, so when I needed some new glasses I decided to try ordering eyeglasses online. I have learned that it is possible to cut one’s own hair. None of these adaptations are important, but they are new and different, and I expect many of my new habits to persist even after the pandemic is over.

More importantly, though, I have learned some new skills for keeping myself sane. I have finally learned what I already knew: that there is little to be gained by obsessively following news that only makes me anxious. Instead of worrying about the problems of the world, I have narrowed my focus to myself and my family. I cannot do anything about the pandemic, nor about the political arguments surrounding it, so it is pointless for me to fret about any of it. What I can do is try to keep myself and my family safe, and keep myself employed. I can try to control only the things I can control, and that is a remarkably effective way of reducing one’s stress level.

And I have regained some perspective that I had lost. We had to cancel our vacation plans for this year, but I find myself oddly content with that: right now, the idea of just going to the mall seems like an exciting enough adventure. And when I do find the shelves at the grocery store stocked with the products I came for, I don’t take it for granted: I am genuinely grateful for the prosperous country I live in.

I would not be so glib or insensitive as to say that this pandemic has in any way been a good thing. But some good can come out of the experience of living through it. This crisis, and the way it has forced me out of my routines, has prompted an adaptive response in me that I hope will leave me better prepared to handle a more serious crisis, if one someday comes. And indeed, even if one doesn’t: if I have learned to be more self-sufficient, more adaptable, calmer, and more appreciative of ordinary life, I will be better off.

I just hope that we, as a country, can similarly emerge from this experience stronger and better prepared for the next challenge we face, and not mortally wounded.

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  1. Mark Camp Member

    Agree with this.  It is an ill wind that blows no good.

    When I was young I read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William Shirer. In the midst of recounting the horrors of the Nazi regime that murdered millions of Jews and launched the world into a horrible war, he pointed out an oddity, an example of the above adage: the Hitler Youth program got young people exercising and spending time in healthy outdoor activities.

    Some readers may think I am equating the level of evil of the current attack on human dignity, freedom, and life by the statists in the US with that of the Nazi statists. Of course I am not; I am not stupid. I am saying no more than that the OP reminded me of another example of a massive statist offensive against humanity that accidentally had many positive consequences.

    We’d do well to remember, when tempted to justify the arbitrary and cruel edicts of the Progressivist State Governors lamely excused by an invented existential threat by COVID-19, that when the Nazis took power in Germany, even they didn’t immediately ban all public worship, or close all businesses except those they approved of, or forbid the public from socializing or working, or block people from visiting their dying parents, as our current crop of statist Governors have done, to the cheers of the Progressivist press.

    • #1
    • May 22, 2020, at 2:28 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bartholomew, I was about to say this was one of the best things I’ve read on Ricochet for a while. In fact, I’ve barely been checking in for all the whining. Then I got to Mark’s comment and…checking back out. That’s the stuff that’s kept me away. And away from talk radio and away from most media in general. I have enough to do working to fight this damned virus. 

    • #2
    • May 24, 2020, at 8:29 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. I Walton Member

    The west’s vast and modernizing changes began after the Black plague. But that was a real disease. Maybe this one is being manipulated by those who would like to return to pre black plague political organization.

    • #3
    • May 25, 2020, at 4:06 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  4. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Maybe–just maybe, try this one–it’s a real disease and we’re learning as we’re going along, so answers will be apparently contradictory as a 24/7 media and not-as-smart-as-they-think-they-are consumers of such media demand “ANSWERS!!!” and “CERTAINTY!!!” in the middle of an pandemic that’s less than 6 months old. We won’t know the true natural history of this disease for at least two years and we’ll know most of what we know by then only in retrospect. There are no answers and there is no certainty this early in the process. A little patience and grace are called for, more than anything. Most of what I see now are whining babies of one kind or another–either in fear or blame-making or demanding oh, I don’t know what (“rights?” to what? free association has limits–as do all Constitutional rights–and public health necessity is one of them). It’s not attractive, particularly in what I think of as otherwise intelligent people.

    • #4
    • May 25, 2020, at 8:51 PM PDT
    • Like
  5. The Reticulator Member

    Caryn (View Comment):
    free association has limits–as do all Constitutional rights–and public health necessity is one of them). It’s not attractive, particularly in what I think of as otherwise intelligent people.

    Who decides what public health necessity is? Necessity is what has caused all encroachment of rights through all of history, whether necessary or not. You can’t have a tyranny without an appeal to necessity. 

     

    • #5
    • May 25, 2020, at 9:19 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  6. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Caryn (View Comment):
    free association has limits–as do all Constitutional rights–and public health necessity is one of them). It’s not attractive, particularly in what I think of as otherwise intelligent people.

    Who decides what public health necessity is? Necessity is what has caused all encroachment of rights through all of history, whether necessary or not. You can’t have a tyranny without an appeal to necessity.

    And absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Just because tyranny uses–or misuses–appeals to necessity does not mean that every appeal to necessity is, consequently, evidence of tyranny. That’s the fallacy that’s being flung around here (and on talk radio, I must add) hysterically. There is a novel virus in circulation that can be very nasty. How nasty and to how many remains to be seen. We’re still early in this process. I’m amazed at the cries of “we’re three months into this and they don’t know” and similar, not to mention the accusations of malfeasance or incompetence hurled at people just trying to get the job done. At three months into it, we had multiple diagnostic tests, several vaccine candidates actually in clinical trials, drug trials underway, and the beginnings of an inkling of the epidemiology. That’s damned good (for comparison, it was 2 years before it was known that the 1918 pandemic was caused by influenza virus). How about some focus on the medical and scientific successes, civic responsibility, and the public good?

    • #6
    • May 25, 2020, at 11:57 PM PDT
    • Like
  7. The Reticulator Member

    Caryn (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Caryn (View Comment):
    free association has limits–as do all Constitutional rights–and public health necessity is one of them). It’s not attractive, particularly in what I think of as otherwise intelligent people.

    Who decides what public health necessity is? Necessity is what has caused all encroachment of rights through all of history, whether necessary or not. You can’t have a tyranny without an appeal to necessity.

    And absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Just because tyranny uses–or misuses–appeals to necessity does not mean that every appeal to necessity is, consequently, evidence of tyranny. That’s the fallacy that’s being flung around here (and on talk radio, I must add) hysterically. There is a novel virus in circulation that can be very nasty. How nasty and to how many remains to be seen. We’re still early in this process. I’m amazed at the cries of “we’re three months into this and they don’t know” and similar, not to mention the accusations of malfeasance or incompetence hurled at people just trying to get the job done. At three months into it, we had multiple diagnostic tests, several vaccine candidates actually in clinical trials, drug trials underway, and the beginnings of an inkling of the epidemiology. That’s damned good (for comparison, it was 2 years before it was known that the 1918 pandemic was caused by influenza virus). How about some focus on the medical and scientific successes, civic responsibility, and the public good?

     That’s a lot more nuanced and far less extreme than saying public health necessity limits constitutional rights. 

    • #7
    • May 26, 2020, at 5:20 AM PDT
    • Like