Alongside many, I haven’t been at peace lately. The COVID-19 pandemic has kept my mind whirling, mostly in frustration. I decided in order to silence my mindspace I needed to lay out all of my irritations and pick a place to rest. I started by taking a look at how I think, why I think this way and then pinpointed my thoughts on COVID-19. Doing so, I was able to return to the core of who I am. A kind, peaceful person who happens to not always take things at face value.
We’ll Start Here
I tend to question (and over think) everything and here’s a major reason why. My freshman year of college, I was enrolled as a cell biology and neurosciences major at MSU Bozeman. I was part of a new four-year training program (don’t worry I eventually switched majors).
There were painful hiccups in the program, but I didn’t mind being a guinea pig in this new exciting time. Delays in classes, faculty that barely spoke English and testing inequalities were a daily occurrence.
Yet, I can confidently say, the very first class I took gave my mind the inquisitive nature it has today. The lesson also taught me that my peculiar mind is an asset and that investigating a source is essential.
The Birth of a Skeptic
The first two-hour course was taught by three faculty. I don’t remember their names or faces, and I don’t remember the topic of the lesson. Why? Because the conclusion of the message blew the lipstick off my pig and the rest became a blur.
To paint the picture
Imagine a classroom of college freshman, eager to learn, eager to prove themselves. All eyes glued to the front of the room as three instructors introduced us to the world of pre-medicine.
The teachers were presenting a study on how medical students learn, how their brains develop in the immediate years following high school. It was fascinating, they were speaking about our minds, our abstract, complex pre-med minds.
Wow, that really happens to our brains when we little geniuses consume caffeine and when we interact with the opposite sex our bodies do that?! Holy cow. How did I not know this? We are taking notes with a passion because this content is the cornerstone of our education. Everyone in the room was beyond fascinated with the discussion. Questions were posed and each answer further awed us.
What happened next, silenced the room.
One instructor very calmly revealed to us that everything we absorbed that day – the slides we reviewed, the notes we took, the questions that were answered was in fact total bull shit. It was 100% phony. We had been duped. A total betrayal of the beautiful mind.
But this was a very clear and strategic message. These medical professionals wanted us to understand that not all we are told is fact. We must always be alert to the information coming to us and be ready to challenge the source.
Seek the facts and be thoughtful in your research.
This was prior to the dawning of social media and the scrolling of fake news. The era of Google was in its infancy. I can recall my gut-throb feeling that day. Who can I believe, who can I trust? How quickly should I absorb what I am taught with or without questioning the source or digging in to find what I believe to be the absolute truth? That’s exhausting and well, sometimes an absolute truth does not exist.
A pre-dupe duping
That wasn’t the first time I was duped in a classroom. Anyone know of NFL football player Drew Hill? Well, back in 2002ish. Drew Hill was heading to Seattle via Amtrak. Amtrak has a station in my little hometown of Shelby, Montana.
Mr. Hill began speaking with an Amtrak attendant who was stationed out of Shelby. They quickly hit it off and football legend Drew Hill casually mentioned to this man that he sometimes does speaking engagements at high schools. He said he would be happy to stop in Shelby, tour the schools and provide the students with motivational discussions. And so, the engagement was set in motion.
It was such a grand opportunity for all of Shelby’s schools to receive attention from Drew Hill. He spoke at assemblies and came into smaller classrooms at the high school. One of the classes he spoke with included a few sports fanatics.
It all unraveled from there.
This man was not Drew Hill. He had spent days in our community taunting us. How did this happen? Well, we didn’t have Google back then. We couldn’t pull up his picture and erroneous football stats on the spot. He was easily taken for his word. Nobody questioned him.
This is Drew Hill
This is the guy who came to Shelby and said he was Drew Hill. No it’s not, it’s just a picture of a guy named Drew Hill I found on Google.
Of Earthly Things I am a Skeptic, COVID-19 Included
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, I have zero knowledge of infectious diseases, I do not research mortality rates, etc. I am just a dum dum with an opinion and feelings (good and bad).
As a skeptic, this is my juxtaposition in the time of this pandemic
I love and care about people all over the world. However, I have a massive mistrust of the U.S. government (all parties), the U.S. healthcare system (most parties) and the media. Lately my mistrust wants to overpower my love.
Is there just cause in stripping our liberties, crippling our economy and surrendering people’s livelihood to “flatten a curve” that may or may not exist? Should I question everything and remain frustrated over the next 18 months? Or can I find a resolve and be still?
My thought train has arrived here:
- I believe the media fuels fear and misrepresents the truth
- I have been inconvenienced by the commercial blackouts, yet I have not been harmed
- I am not afraid of contracting COVID-19
- I am thankful that I am not afraid of contracting COVID-19
- I am aware there are people afraid of contracting COVID-19
- There are people I do not want to contract COVID-19
- I believe that infants, the elderly and immunocompromised people (and others) can die from the virus
- I love infants, the elderly and immunocompromised people (and others)
- I believe it is possible for our healthcare system to become overwhelmed
- The only way to know if COVID-19 is as scary as portrayed by the media is an outcome where masses die
- Masses dying is worse than the depression of our economy
- I do not want masses to die
- I do not want to spread COVID-19
- I will be prudent in my actions to reduce my exposure to the virus
- I will be socially distant
- I will be kind to those that are fearful
- I will relinquish control, release my frustrations and be still in peace
As you can see, it has taken me fluent mindspace to work through my frustrations and feelings surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been a struggle because I believe myself to be a considerate and kind person. Why doesn’t that automatically lead my body in action and my mind to peace?
It’s my skeptic-question-everything-nature that disrupts my peace and wants to go to combat when something is forced upon me and leaves me no control. But that’s okay because I have come to a resolve. I will not put my skepticism first when it contradicts love, kindness, tolerance and usefulness. That is my core, skepticism is not.
Wow I feel so much better writing that out.
For You Other Naughty Skeptics
You may not trust everything you are told and you may not be living in fear, but are you at peace with your feelings? If not, maybe if you adjust your focus to doing no harm, you too may find there is more peace in that mindspace. I hope this helps other skeptics to work through their frustrations and settle on kindness. You can remain a media-despising skeptic. Just be a kind one. Leave the harm for the assholes. You’re a skeptic not an asshole, right?