In every disaster movie, you’ll find the same group of characters. As soon as the disaster hits, there’s a preacher who proclaims, “There’s no need to fear! God will save us!” Instantly, he is gobbled up by the monster, sucked out the hole in the fuselage, falls through a collapsing floor into the flames below, or whatever the disaster happens to be.
The survivors (including a fading celebrity or two) group around two people. The leader is an expert of some sort. If it’s a plague believed to come from outer space, he (and, yeah, it’s usually a he) is a doctor. If a tower has become an inferno, he’s an architect. Whatever the problem is, he happens to be the expert at solving it. (He also happens to be ruggedly handsome and has his bangs mussed up so he looks even more swoon-worthy as he climbs through the rubble.)
Our leader is opposed by some loudmouthed braggart, usually a businessman or tough guy with heavy eyebrows and a too-tight dress shirt. He questions everything the leader does, and foments division among the survivors.
They come to a point where they have to make a critical decision, one that brings the tension between the leader and the opponent to the breaking point. The opponent bellows, “Follow me if you want to live!” A few of the survivors do. As expected, the opponent has made the wrong decision and winds up getting himself and his followers killed. The leader, of course, has used his expertise to make the right decision. He and those who followed him (including his buxom ex-wife who had lost strategic parts of her garments during the escape and now has fallen back in love with him) survive.
I told you all this to talk about where we are with COVID-19. In this disaster movie we’re living through, we’re at a critical point.
Let’s face it; staying at home gets old. We get tired of hearing about the crisis all day on TV. We worry about losing our jobs and how we’ll pay the bills if we do. We hate the uncertainty. We yearn for the days when we can eat out, watch live sports, or go shopping without feeling we’re putting our lives in danger.
There are the loudmouths out there who tell us it’s all a hoax, and the experts can’t be trusted. They’ll tell us the doctors and scientists are scaredy-cats who won’t take what they feel are acceptable risks to reopen the economy. Instead, they demand we follow them because they trust their guts, and they just know the right thing to do.
And if you watch enough disaster movies, you can picture what happens next. They lead us straight into the swarm of killer bees or reopen the beach just as the shark gets hungry.
That’s why I trust the experts. The virologists, the epidemiologists, and the scientists who have been studying these problems their entire careers. They might not have all the answers at the moment, but they have the tools and experience to find out. We know the dangers of rejecting science. If there is ever a time to turn to science and expertise, it’s now.
We all want to escape from this disaster movie and get back to some type of normalcy. The only way we can do this is to trust the men and women who are experts. They are the ones who can lead us to safety.