Fear is greatly underrated.
Mental health is loosely taken as a situation of feeling good. Fear is roughly seen as an undesirable feeling. Although opponents of discomfort will be quick to agree that if you encounter a hungry tiger in the street and you don’t feel any fear, you may actually not be so sound of mind.
Still, who needs chronic fear and depression? We have a right to pursue happiness, the most-depressed nation on earth holds.
This all may greatly enable the coronavirus to spread more than ever.
The Spanish flu did not spread like that. That’s not just because now we have more international travel. The plague did not spread like that. And that’s not because they understood microbes better. To the contrary!
Blind panic was the mood of the day when the plague was the big killer. People stayed home, prayed a lot, took any hint of what would help very seriously. All motivated by a palpable fear of dying.
This is largely lacking now. The pandemic is seen by many as the fear of dying in traffic. Happens every day but it won’t happen to me. Denial.
Public knowledge of health also helps the virus. Once, physicians were feared as lofty gods. Obeying them could undo a death sentence. Now, everyone with Internet access is their own (and everyone else’s) doctor.
The virus takes a hike with the carefreeness, the nonchalance, the ‘if you’re happy/devout/healthy, it couldn’t happen to you’ attitude.
Also, we got used to it. The pandemic became wallpaper. We ignore it.
And of course, the Original Sin: Adam says: It was her, Eve says: No, him.
We need more fear. Not a paralyzing fear that leads to depression, suicide, or defeatism. But a fear that says: I see a tiger there–time to step back.
Fear can be a bad guide to action. Lack of common-sense fear can be fatal.