Heart and Mind – May 2021 – Dr. Lou Yock

I am an administrator on Facebook because of the pandemic.  When the pandemic subsides, I will happily put Facebook aside.  I do not find Facebook bad or evil; for me, it’s just another screen for me to try remember and deal with.


Last year, on the church’s Facebook page, in one of my first posts, I linked an article to the New York Times that historically explained how pandemics end.  The thesis is that, for a disease like the coronavirus, there really is no bright line.  That while there may be pronouncements, pandemics like the current one end when a substantial segment of a population learns how to live with the threat.  Endings “are very, very messy,” said Dora Vargha, a historian at the University of Exeter.   The challenge, Dr. Allan Brandt, a Harvard Historian states, “is that there will be no sudden victory. Trying to define the end of the epidemic ‘will be a long and difficult process.’”


I don’t share this to be discouraging. Rather, I share it to encourage people to be patient with one another.  From here on out, people will disagree intelligently about measures and worthwhileness of restrictions. In the disagreements, I would encourage you to see no one as a bad actor, operating from faulty reasoning or lack of understanding.  Once again, it is people weighing information, experience, and outlook, and coming to different conclusions.  As with most conflicts, it is a conflict of competing goods.


The good of social conformity can come into conflict with the good of personal autonomy.  There will be decidedly different understandings of what makes a life worth living.  There have been and will be conflicting data about threat assessment.  People have greater and lesser tolerances for risk.  People have greater, lesser, and inconsistent trust and follow-through with medical advice.  A person will find one recommendation from the CDC worth following, while another will be considered less worthwhile for them in a given situation.


In the end, I encourage you to consider that you control what you do best.  You cannot control another person, but you can control how you react to another person.


For the time being, I will continue to wear a mask at the church, and will be more comfortable if others do so as well—even the vaccinated.  However, while I’m outside, I find the need for a mask less important, although I still sometimes wear one. I thoroughly and unreservedly respect those who would disagree with my decisions, and understand and appreciate why they do.  I continue to, mostly, but not always, try to operate out of an abundance of caution.  I will not appear consistent to everyone.  When I think about it, I do not always appear consistent to myself.


In any case, it appears from the article I referenced that this twilight zone will not last for much longer, simply because it will not be a twilight zone, but a new way of life.  Unlike smallpox, which could be eliminated, a coronavirus probably will not be.  From my very limited medical understanding, our greatest hope is that it becomes less threatening, and/or more treatable.  Whatever my credentials, Facebook Administrator is my least favorite and not substantiated with any real knowledge, and I look forward to the day I can abandon that mantle.

Dr. Lou Yock

Dr. Louis Yock, is the minister of People's Church Unitarian Universalists and in this role, is responsible for delivering a portion of Sunday services, pastoral care, conferring with all committees and providing spiritual leadership for the congregation.