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5.25.2020

No One Knows What the Future Holds

Early on, I started getting direct messages from friends and acquaintances asking what to expect when COVID19 hit our shores. How bad would it be? What should we do? Most often --once school and then other life started to close down -- how long will this last? 

I explained then -- and continue to explain today -- that this is a new and different disease and we are just learning as we go. We are learning how to treat it, how it spreads, how to recognize when it will be benign and when it will kill.

We don't know.

We react and act and our reaction and actions change what happens next. 

We cast about for someone to tell us what we want to hear. 

Between the Internet and Cable TV, we have grown accustomed to experts on tap, with a ready reassurance or a dire warning. So much so, that when they tell use that they don't really know, we feel that can't be true. There must be someone with a crystal ball. 

Enter the grifters, conspiracy theorists, end-times prophets and pundits to fill the void. 

As Mark Lilla writes in the New York Times, however, we don't know what the future holds:

"The pandemic has brought home just how great a responsibility we bear toward the future, and also how inadequate our knowledge is for making wise decisions and anticipating consequences. Perhaps that is why our prophets and augurs can’t keep up with the demand for foresight. At some level, people must be thinking that the more they learn about what is predetermined, the more control they will have. This is an illusion. Human beings want to feel that they are on a power walk into the future, when in fact we are always just tapping our canes on the pavement in the fog. 
A dose of humility would do us good in the present moment. It might also help reconcile us to the radical uncertainty in which we are always living. Let us retire our prophets and augurs. And let us stop asking health specialists and public officials for confident projections they are in no position to make — and stop being disappointed when the ones we force out of them turn out to be wrong.

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No One Knows What the Future Holds

Early on, I started getting direct messages from friends and acquaintances asking what to expect when COVID19 hit our shores. How bad would ...