Have you gone down the rabbit hole of news information lately?

For weeks, I kept abreast of the news, tired already of election news, an open ear to the Coronavirus situation in China. Then it ballooned and has now been declared a pandemic. A length clip from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (language warning) helped distill the information around me. 80% of the cases are mild. 20% are not. 2% mortality rate is 20 times higher than the .1% rate of influenza, from which many are vaccinated and many still suffer.

Before going to bed last night I saw the numbers of dead in Italy headlined. At the time of this printing, it is hard to imagine what the numbers will be and what things will be like in Stanislaus County. I am already struggling to find hand sanitizer for us to use for our son’s at-home medical procedures.

The numbers are alarming and our society is showing the effects.

I find a few elements necessary to draw on for myself.

First, stay updated, but it is okay to step away from the news.

Our society is inundated with news. At my friend’s newlywed new home, Alexa sits on the countertop showing off headlines as they appear. An alert pops on my screen for the Modesto Bee doing likewise. I have a clip habit to check notifications on Facebook and scroll down to see what is happening in the groups I follow. Click on one, then another, check over on a news aggregate site, type in the WHO website and CDC to confirm if what I am reading is accurate or overblown. And so on. It can take hours away from the day if we let it. Or we could ignore it all and go about our lives. But neither choice is prudent.

Second, about #faithnotfear

On social media, there is the faith sector, promoting faith over fear and for it, they even utilize a hashtag. Should those who hold onto a particular creed expect that creed to protect them from all evil, those evils natural and supernatural? But faith does not prevent suffering. Those who adopt a “power of positive thinking” mindset will be hard-pressed to prove their case when enough years have passed. The world is a hard place and our bodies, though influenced by our mental and emotional state, are not guaranteed to never suffer or fall ill. It is part of life and part of growth and often the role faith plays is to transform the current suffering into a source of meaning and growth, not escape from it.

Sometimes, we should be afraid, even if we have faith.

in the middle lies virtue

Stay calm, focused, and continue to live your life to the best of your ability. I write this as a mother of a newborn with a gaggle of kids at home, rather than a citizen of a country waiting to see what the next headline about coronavirus tells me.

Now is a great time to review hand-washing techniques and stick to them.

It might not be a bad idea to make sure we have the important things we need, like diaper wipes, rather than letting the well-run dry.

So rather than deciding to join the panic, I will use this as an opportunity to check into the efficiency of our home, our pantry, our medicine cabinet, and decide accordingly.

I will quiet that rebellious American spirit that scoffs at an effort to quarantine, should the occasion arise.

I will practice kindness towards those who are afraid and those who brush off the situation.

And I will keep before me the maxim, “in medio stat virtus,” in the middle lies virtue knowing that the most prudent course is usually between the two extremes of too much or too little.

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