KNYSNA NEWS - How does one curb a basic human fear (that of dying) without descending into a state of panic?
There's an inherent irony in the request to not panic. "Don't panic" is usually uttered in situations where people are panicking.
And probably the best way to amplify a state of panic is to tell a panicker to stop panicking.
This is the dilemma our planet now faces after the introduction of the globe's most recent plague called Covid-19.
A series of anguished entries on the local social media platforms last week summed up the rising concern surrounding the pan(ick)demic, which has loosely divided the wider South African population into two broad camps: those in denial or who remain sceptical of the seriousness of the threat; and those in full flight mode who believe one should err on the side of caution.
Why, the latter argue, if this disease is life threatening (and there is no doubt it can result in death) take any chances? Comparing it to other life-threatening ailments does not diminish its potency as a potential killer. You're just being paranoid, the former counter. Don't panic. The difference between paranoia and fear however, is that in the case of fear, the enemy is real. As this one is.
So whatever camp you find yourself in, the following facts need to be absorbed and congested: (1) the quarantine, isolatory regulations and other precautionary measures are not to stop the virus reaching people per se or to irritate younger, healthier citizens likely to survive the sickness, but are put in place to try help the hospitals cope with the staggering number of cases that are likely to occur; and (2) you might be carrying and spreading the virus without showing symptoms, so even if you possess the capacity to overcome it, someone next to you might not. Someone with loved ones that don't want to see their family or friends succumb to the disease.
It thus seems not only prudent to take this global crisis seriously, but imperative.
So don the Dr Kildare face masks when you feel any symptomatic discomfort, wash your hands regularly like the good doctors tell you, avoid public spaces when the authorities say so and understand that you can also wash your bottom in the shower when the toilet paper runs out.
Also, if you believe in the power of words as we here at KPH are witness to on a daily basis, perhaps try and substitute the term "don't panic'' with the words "try and keep calm" and see if it offers better results. And console yourself with the fact that, no matter how bad things get, it's going to be worse for the burglars if everybody stays home for weeks on end. – Ed
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