Updated: Mar 26, 2020
Not abiding by the self-isolation rules? Then you are putting your life, and the lives of everyone you come in contact with, in grave danger.
I am the first person to not panic about the virus. I’ve gone through so much in my life that a virus and pandemic aren’t actually that bad. I actually feel fortunate that the current moment is not as bad as some of the times in my life when we literally had nothing. No food, no water, no medicine, no electricity, and no outside contact.
When I think about being injured during those bad times - having my leg amputated without anesthesia, or fighting the ensuing infection by cutting the infected flesh off while biting on a teddy bear to release some of the pain - this pandemic really seems like a vacation. Until I am at the point where I am making the choice whether or not to eat my pet in order to stay alive, I am not worried.
Compared to the genocide, my days right now look pretty good. Nothing is really working. I get to stay home. I have a fridge and freezer full of food (living through a genocide means you are always prepared for a shutdown). I have electricity, as well as a beautiful pool in my backyard. I mean…damn you government for forcing me to lay by my pool and read books! Books I’ve been meaning to read for months. When I think about my past, I honestly can’t help but feel really fortunate, even compared to the millions of Americans struggling right now because the are not fortunate enough to have the resources or preparedness I do.
But as far as things go, like everything else, things could be better, but, for most of us not actively hospitalized or on the front lines, things could also be worse. And instead of dwelling on what could be — we need to deal with what we have. I try not to feed into the panic and limit my social media/news/ incoming information to twice a day while staying in my house and away from people. It’s enough.
But most of us aren't doing the same despite the mindset and behaviors we need to cultivate to get through this thing. I have found that during this time, we have two extreme types of people:
The first kind of people are the ones constantly hungry for information. They pride themselves on knowing and reading everything, raising panic and alarms when they should - and also when they shouldn’t. This is a problem; it’s like the boy that cried wolf. You don't know what you should believe, or if anything you're doing is helping or just making things worse.
If you are one of those people, not only are you wreaking havoc on yourself, you are also adding fuel to the fire. Calm down. Check your news in the morning to see what’s happening. Check at night to get the latest update. And that’s all you need.
In between, try to see the benefits of being home. Maybe you get to spend time with your kids that you normally don’t get. Maybe you teach your child something new. Maybe you learn something new. Maybe you work on your relationship with your spouse, read books, or do a million other things you complained you couldn’t do because you were too busy. Take advantage of this time. There is no need for you to develop an addiction habit-watching the situation develop on a minute-by-minute basis, feeding into the panic and giving yourself anxiety. This could last months. Pace yourself. Unfortunately, when this is over and you have to go back to your busy life, you will wish you had taken some time to calm down.
This reminds me of that strange period that we are all familiar with: the day after you lose your job, or quit your job, or graduate and have to find a job, and all the time that follows until you find a new one. You know what that feels like. You are freaked out because you don’t have a new job, you can’t relax, and you feel like you have to do something. So you keep sending out resumes, going crazy, worrying, trying to figure it all out. You file for unemployment, send out more resumes, network, and on and on - when really you just need to relax. You need to relax and enjoy your time. But you can't relax because you think you will never get another job, so your days are packed, even if it is hard to measure what you are actually getting done.
Then, when you get a new job, you wish you had taken your time to enjoy those weeks without work because they were kind of like a bonus vacation. A time to reset, figure out what it is you really want to do, sit in the present moment, and enjoy your life. But it’s too late; the time has passed. It’s just gone.
The same idea applies with this virus. Yes, this is a very stressful situation. But we will all get through it. Short of keeping yourself adequately informed and staying physically distant from others, try to make the best of it. Enjoy the time off you have. When this is all over, you might wish you had used your time wisely and not spent so much time on social media feeding into fears and anxieties.
The second group of people are on the other end of the spectrum. These are the people who are ignorant and oblivious to everything that’s happening around them. Just like an ostrich, their head is buried deep in the sand.
In fact, one such person is the reason why I am writing this blog. As someone who is taking this in stride and not panicking or feeding into anxiety, I was shocked when she told me that, “anything can kill us and she wasn’t going to stay in because of the virus.” Don’t panic for sure, but this extreme is not okay either. It shows ignorance and a total disregard for human life.
Yes, tragedies strike every single day. When I went out to hang out with my friends on July 14, 1993, a bomb exploded 6-10 ft from us, killing all of my friends and severely injuring me. Here’s the odd thing: I was the person closest to the bomb. I was the one on top of the wall while my friends were further away and hiding behind cement walls that surrounded them on all but one side. I, on the other hand, was completely exposed. By any logic, I should have been the one that was killed. But that wasn’t the case. Instead they all died, and I lived.
I am telling you this story because, more than most people, I understand that tragedies happen every day and when it’s your time to die, you will die. But that does’t mean that I should needlessly be taking chances with my life, risking my well-being and the well-being of others.
There are unpreventable and accidental deaths that happen every day and will continue to happen post this virus. Because of that, we do everything in our power to mitigate and minimize the threats around us. During “normal times” that means wearing seatbelts, not driving drunk, not texting and driving - but during coronavirus it means staying home! You staying home will save lives. It’s not longer a question of if — it’s a question of how many.
One thing I want you folks to understand is that if Karen gets infected with a virus yesterday while she was out shopping because she does’t want to feed into fear and thinks that if you are going to die, it will happen anyway - Karen won’t show any symptoms or know she is sick for, by some estimates, 14 days after she got infected. While she thinks she is healthy and continues living her life, Karen is now infecting other people.
Let’s say she comes into contact with 10 other people. Now those 10 people, who also think they are okay because they know Karen well and she was fine last time they saw her, are infected but also have no clue. And now those 10 people infect 100 other people. The 100 infect the 1000 and on and on it goes. By the time Karen realizes she is sick, the virus has spread and infected dozens of others. This is a vicious cycle we can break by staying diligent and vigilant about being physically isolated.
For all of you out there who feel that you can go out and just live a normal life, you need to understand that this coronavirus is like an invisible, fully-automatic machine gun with unlimited ammunition storage capacity. No one knows if you have this gun and if you are firing it. Not even you.
But, every time you go out, what you are doing is killing and injuring people. It’s no different than someone walking into your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner where you and your family are all gathered at the dinner table, and firing off a few rounds, killing. Some people at the table may die, some may be injured, and one or two people might be unharmed. But it doesn’t change the fact that the person walked and tried to kill your entire family.
If you are brushing this situation off (like this person I know is), please realize that YOU ARE THE PERSON WITH THE MACHINE GUN. You are the killer — whether you know it or not. Whether you admit it or not. Your intent might be different than that person with the gun, but your impact is the same.
Sure, tragedies happen everyday and we can’t escape when it’s our time to die — but that doesn’t give anyone the right to walk around with a fully loaded automatic machine gun killing and injuring people. Anyone who decides they are above the restrictions right now should be treated just as criminally as the person who wanders in and fires a gun at random.
So if you don’t think it’s okay to just randomly kill people, guns or otherwise, — please stay at home. Please stay quarantined, and please stay physically distant from anyone except those in your household. If you don’t, you will be killing and injuring people. Ignorance is never an excuse to kill or hurt others. And this day and age of information — ignorance shouldn’t be excuse for anything.
Stay Home. Save a Life.
About the Author:
Maja Kazazic is an internationally recognized motivational speaker and author originally from Mostar in former Yugoslavia. During the Bosnian genocide, she and five friends were caught in an RPG explosion. Maja was severely wounded, and all of her friends were killed on impact. Maja was later evacuated to the United States for extensive medical treatment. She re-learned to walk, attended college, and, in 2006, founded a successful web development company. Today she lives in Florida with her family, including her service dog, Rosie, and is an active kayaker, tennis player, and golfer. Maja has been featured in Reader's Digest, Good Housekeeping Magazine, Fox News, BBC News, Discovery Network, the Philadelphia Inquirer and more and has delivered her timely messages to clients from organizations big and small all over the world.
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