Public Calm in the Face of Disaster

Is there such a thing as disaster fatigue? Can one become so inured to catastrophe that one no longer reacts?

The coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. shows no signs of amelioration. Many indications suggest that things will get worse. As I write, the U.S. reports two and a half million cases and over 172,000 deaths. The largest segment of the dying are the most vulnerable—older people with physical disabilities. That means I am a prime target, an older man with a history of lung cancer.

And yet the news reports assume a matter-of-fact tone. Another day, another rise in the death toll. President Trump obviously isn’t concerned. Why should I be?

Because we’re talking about deaths. Deaths. I almost feel as though I want to remind people how serious death is. How can we remain so calm in the face of a threat to our lives?

I already know one person who has died from the pandemic. How many more will there be before the U.S. gets its act together and curbs the pandemic spread? Unlike the American public, I am not unruffled by tragedy.

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