Opinion

Look to us for information in days ahead

Monday, March 16, 2020

Strange days, my friends. We are living in strange days. I've gone from worrying about the possibility of spring thaws and excess rain causing puddles in my basement, to planning, then replanning, and starting over once again to plan, how to continue to provide area residents with the news they need to keep themselves, those they love, and friends and neighbors they don't know yet, safe.

Days like these, however, are the ones in which newspapers like ours, and thousands of others around the world, prove our true worth. This is why we were made.

In this day of social media, and online "experts," everywhere, finding a place that you can trust — a place with facts — is a vital service we can provide. And, in the days and weeks to come, that's what we will be doing.

And, in an effort to serve the community which we have been a part of for over 140 years, all that vital information will be available to everyone on our website. Paywall restrictions have been lifted for those stories. While we would appreciate your support of our journalism, through a subscription, we believe opening up this information to the public is a key part of our mission.

We may be pushing out that information in different ways, from different locations, than in normal days, but my promise to you is that we will always be there, giving you information to help you make informed decisions.

We will ask the tough questions of those in charge. We will explain what phrases like "flattening the curve" mean. And we will share information about where to get help and support.

We will also be sharing information from experts on how to deal with the anxiety that these strange days brings. Uncertainty, fear for our loved ones, concerns about careers and financial markets all conspire to make us want to take to our beds and pull the covers over our heads for a few days or weeks.

We want to support those who feel overwhelmed. And guide them to places where they can get help.

That's my promise, and I'll be working toward that aim, along with a group of really great professionals, every day.

When the task ahead seems too large, and the unseen threat feels like a boogyman in a dream, I'm reminded of the words of C.S. Lewis, a favorite of mine. Replace "atomic bomb" with "coronavirus" and his 1948 writings seems very appropriate these days.

“In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. "How are we to live in an atomic age?" I am tempted to reply: "Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents. ...

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors — anaesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

They need not dominate our minds. ..."

In this day of "social distancing," let's take a few of Lewis' suggestions for activities off that list. But the idea remains. We can do the hard things asked of us. Sacrificing a spring break trip, hunkering down at home, riding this storm out by heeding the advice of the scientists and medical experts, doesn't have to dominate our minds.

And when you need information, you can look to us.