May 14, 2020


Joel Nodelman

COVID and Crazy – 2 Parallel Crises

About the author

Joel is an engineer and risk management specialist with over forty years of professional practice. He is committed to helping his clients achieve climate resiliency and sustainability.

Today I consider two parallel crises: COVID-19 and crazy. Going over my records, I see that this is our 20th video blog for 2020. And I've see a dramatic change in my theme, starting about eight weeks ago when the COVID crisis landed in our laps.

In our work we use risk management to address climate change. As COVID became our new reality, we saw direct parallels between our professional practice and the events swirling around us. So we started a running commentary on crisis management, drawing from our observations of how people are coping with this scary new reality. Today I continue on that theme.

The First Crisis - COVID-19

I've noticed that we are actually fighting two parallel crises: 

  • COVID-19; and
  • Crazy.

We all know how to fight COVID:

  • Physical distance;
  • Hand washing;
  • Wearing masks in public;
  • Vaccines; and
COVID and Crazy – 2 Parallel Cr

COVID and Crazy - We are Social Creatures

The Second Crisis - Crazy

But we are way behind the curve on dealing with the epidemic of crazy, coming from lengthy periods of isolation and financial stress. You would think staying at home would be relaxing. But we are social creatures. The hardest thing for many of us is the lack of human contact. It literally drives us crazy!

Now, I am the first to say that loneliness is trivial compared to those who are actually fighting the virus. They are having a terrible time. What I hear about the symptoms of COVID is sobering. The stress of isolation pales in comparison. One is a slow, creeping risk, the other life and death.

COVID and Crazy - We Lack Empathy

Many of us are not good at empathy. Comedians draw on the strain between our personal burdens and others’ disasters to drive their humour.  And we laugh at the joke.  

Mel Brooks said:

“Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”

When you think about this, it isn't funny. But it draws a picture of a foible that many of us share; the inability to identify with others’ tragedy. 

COVID and Crazy Behaviour

As the crisis drags on people are growing impatient and frustrated, and they are doing crazy things.

We see this in the uptick in racism directed at the Asian community. This goes well beyond name calling and sour looks. We have cases of folks spit on and assaulted for being old, weak and Chinese.

And we see it in smaller personal rebellion; getting abusive over physical distancing or wearing face masks, and gathering in large groups. And the icing on the cake, the almost relentless barrage of nutty conspiracy theories. So far this week alone I have seen COVID blamed on:

  • George Soros;
  • Bill Gates;
  • The Chinese Government;
  • Chinese Canadians;
  • Chinese in general;
  • The World Health Organization;
  • Global elites;
  • Communists;
  • Socialists;
  • Conservatives;
  • Liberals;
  • Teresa Tam;
  • Obama;
  • Trump;
  • Trudeau; and
  • On and on.
  • COVID and Crazy – 2 Parallel Crises

    COVID and Crazy - Nutty Conspiracy Theories

    COVID and Crazy - The Time Has Come to Deal

    So, the time has come for us to deal with the epidemic of crazy. Crazy amplifies crises. It makes things worse. And it increases the load on our heroes; those folks who because of temperament or professional obligation just can't indulge in crazy.  

    Is there any hope in all of this? Sure there is! But we need patience, and we have to follow the COVID management principles we already know.  

    COVID and Crazy - Share the Joys

    On top of this, we can share the little joys that relieve the stress. The musicians who post on social media, positive memes, and examples of how folks are coping in constructive ways. People are creative and are sharing some really profoundly funny, wise, and beautiful things. And reach out to each other for a video or phone chat. It helps to know that we are not alone.

    That's my focus these days. And I try not to indulge in doom-scrolling on social media. That just makes it worse.

    Let's Chat

    I'd love to hear your stories about things that helped you cope with the crisis. Please comment below.

    How are you coping during the current COVID-19 crisis?

    What are your five most hopeful refections on surviving the crisis?

    What similarities and differences do you see between the COVID-19 crisis and climate change?

    If you would like to hear more, check out  Crisis, Response and Recovery

    If you wish feel free to contact us directly.

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