From the Mayor's Desk:
Coronavirus Fear and Trust
Fear and trust guide our actions on a daily basis. These are cornerstones for successfully living together in communities, provinces, nations. Both are at play as we try to manage our way through the current public health crisis brought on by the coronavirus. Individually we fear infection of ourselves or loved ones so we take appropriate individual and family precautions. Collectively we fear widespread infection of the population so we take appropriate public health and governmental actions. Individually we trust that those around us are taking similar precautions, heeding the advice of the public health experts and complying with government orders. Governments trust that we will collectively comply with advice, orders, laws.
This is not new to us. Fear and trust are in play every time we travel on our highways. We fear the distracted driver, the speeder passing with too little room, the icy road conditions. After all, people die in accidents on our highways. So most of us do up our seatbelts, obey the rules of the road, and drive with a prudent amount of caution. But we also trust that most other people share our fears and are taking the same approach to driving so that collectively we can use the highways safely, get to our destinations. To help us maintain safety on the roads public campaigns warn that speed kills, remind us not to drink and drive, and speed limits are posted. Because most drivers obey the rules our roads are safe and fatal accidents are reasonably rare.
So as the coronavirus continues to spread, we act collectively and individually to limit the impact. Our actions of social and physical distancing, isolation, and quarantine where necessary seem to be making a difference. We have trust in our public health system to guide us through this crisis. We have trust in our health care system to care for us if we do get sick. We fear what will happen if the system is overwhelmed so we act to flatten the curve, slow the spread. And we trust in each other to act with social responsibility.
In March 1933 the national banking system in the U.S. collapsed. In his famous speech to reassure the nation President Franklin D. Roosevelt asserted that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts….”. Wise words for our current public health crisis and associated economic fallout to come. Let’s keep our fear to that useful level that helps us act wisely. And let’s trust each other and our collective systems to get us through this time and on to health and recovery.