We just DON’T KNOW, do we? Two months into this impossibly complex liminal space and there is just so much we DON’T KNOW. And we JUST WANT SOMEONE TO KNOW! Surely there is SOMEONE who can give us some answers, who can offer some assurances or at least a roadmap or guide for how to get through this space without losing our loved ones or our jobs or our businesses or our health or our minds. ANYBODY?!
We turn to our politicians, but every one of them seems to have a different message, one of them telling us we should stay at home as long as we can and another one saying it’s far better to open the economy and another one who seems to flip flop between messages depending on the day. And some of them are clearly being influenced by outside forces, and some of them are clearly biased against those most vulnerable to the disease, so are there really any we can trust? And aren’t some of them using some draconian methods to enforce policies that don’t entirely make sense? And do they really have any clue what’s best right now if they have no historic reference for how to get us through this? WHY CAN’T THEY AT LEAST TELL US WHEN OUR KIDS WILL GO BACK TO SCHOOL?
We turn to our scientists, but they say complicated things and it’s surprising to hear them say how much they don’t yet know about this novel virus. We want them to tell us exactly how it will behave and how soon they’ll have a cure and whether we can be absolutely one hundred percent sure that if we wear masks and stand six feet apart and wash our cans of beans and our bananas we will be protected and our loved ones won’t have to die. And we want them to tell us who will suffer the worst symptoms and who will be spared and we want to hear that once a person has recovered they’ll have immunity. But they just keep telling us they’re still doing the research and that it’s showing different results and different death rates in different parts of the world, and it will take a long time to develop a vaccine or treatment, and they’re giving us the best advice they can based on what they know. And it just seems like THEY SHOULD KNOW MORE BY NOW! And also… isn’t there a chance they’re all being influenced by big pharmaceutical companies who stand to make money off of this?
We turn to our spiritual leaders and some of them admit they don’t know much either and yet they tell us to pray and meditate anyway for our own peace and mental health, but it seems like all the meditating we do still leaves us with anxious pits in our stomaches. And others give us assurances that God is in control and that we don’t have to worry, but those with the greatest assurances gather their congregations despite the restrictions and then we hear stories of outbreaks in churches and choirs and some of those very leaders who promised God would offer protection are the ones who end up dead, along with members of their congregation. And we wonder WHY ISN’T GOD PROTECTING US and why aren’t our leaders better at guiding us through this and protecting us from harm, or at least telling us what God’s will is in all of this?
We turn to our homeopaths and healers and they tell us how to care for our bodies and what foods to eat to boost our immunity and that gives us at least some comfort that we’re doing the best we can to protect ourselves and our children. But they still can’t give us certainty about what will protect us and we hear that even healthy people are dying and the healers with the most certainty make us a little anxious because some of the information they’re giving goes against everything we’re hearing from the top medical doctors and some of what they’re saying might put our vulnerable loved ones at risk and we feel caught in between and in over our heads with too much information.
In desperation for some kind of clarity and perhaps someone to blame for this whole mess, we turn to those at the fringes of mainstream science and they tell us disturbing stories about how all of the scientists in control who have access to the media are not to be trusted because they’re in cahoots over some mastermind plot which involves artificially creating the virus and releasing it into the world and jailing all of the naysayers and holistic healers who get in the way so that they can forcefully vaccinate everyone in the world and make billions of dollars off a vaccine and possibly inject us all with tracking devices in the process. And, for a moment, it’s tempting to believe them because AT LEAST SOMEONE SEEMS TO KNOW SOMETHING. But then we realize there may be some gaps in the logic behind this narrative and they may have some motivation for misleading us, and… we STILL DON’T KNOW ANYTHING!
And in the meantime, our anxiety over not knowing anything causes us to start having arguments on Facebook because everyone seems to have a different version of the truth and we’re disappointed because our friends don’t see it the same way we do and we love them and we really need them to share our belief system to make us feel more secure. AND WHAT IF THEIR VERSION OF THE TRUTH MEANS THEY’RE WILLING TO RISK THE HEALTH OF OUR GRANDMOTHER OR DISABLED FRIENDS?
We don’t know. We simply DON’T KNOW. And nobody else knows either – not even the experts who’ve spent their lives trying to know. And that’s scary and unfamiliar because usually SOMEBODY KNOWS SOMETHING that will at least make this easier to navigate.
And all we can do in this place of not-knowing is to pause, stand still, take deep breaths, turn toward others who are also willing to stand still for a moment, and see that they have fear in their eyes too. And maybe when we are standing in this collective space we can recognize the way that the earth is still holding us and the sky is still blessing us and our bodies are still carrying us. And we can place our collective fear and not-knowing in the centre of the circle so that it feels less overwhelming and we can hold it together and not judge one person’s fear over another person’s fear and, at least for a moment, pause from trying to convince each other that our beliefs are just as valid as theirs are.
And maybe this vast internet that connects us (but also sometimes divides us) can allow us, in this moment, to not breathe physically on each other but to breathe collectively so that we gather some strength and resilience from each other to make it through these coming months until the other side of this liminal space begins to appear more clearly on the horizon.