Life is full of uncertainties

Germany in the corona crisis : We have to learn to live with uncertainty

Life is a defiant nonetheless. It eludes planability and predictability, and many people seeking meaning despair of the answers available. Parents know: Anyone who has children but is afraid of risks must either be crazy or naive, preferably both. That is why insurances are taken out against theft and accidents, against storms and illness. That should give support and calm down. In the end, however, every life is a departure into uninsurability. That makes it as beautiful as it is scary.

Enduring uncertainty is a virtue that shows maturity. This can be observed again now. Much is unclear about the corona pandemic. When does it peak in which country? How does the virus behave when it is warm? How fast can a vaccine be developed? What explains the high mortality rate in some countries? The scientists feel their way around, evaluate data, and come up with theses.

[Current developments and information on the corona pandemic can be found here in our news blog.]

Elementary freedoms are curtailed

Politicians around the world, in turn, do what morality dictates: They try to save as many human lives as possible. Drastic measures are being adopted everywhere to slow the spread of the virus, and drastic economic measures are being adopted everywhere to alleviate the consequences of the first drastic measures.

Elementary freedoms are curtailed, historically large aid packages are being put together. Both are correct because they are necessary. In the choice of their methods of fighting the virus, mankind is surprisingly unanimous in pulling together. And everyone knows: In a state of emergency, there is exceptional morale for a time. Once the virus is contained, freedoms come back.

[An overview of important Tagesspiegel texts on the coronavirus can be found here.]

This culminates in the sentence: It won't work that way

But because enduring uncertainty is not for everyone and every woman, a lot of know-it-alls sprout mainly in the social networks. Millions of hobby virologists and epidemiologists know exactly what should have been done a long time ago, what needs to be done urgently and when the social mood changes.

It's like a soccer World Cup, where millions of laypeople transform themselves into national coaches to get excited about the team line-up. This culminates in the corona crisis as in the World Cup, in the sentence that is always shaking the head: It won't work that way.

This points to both defensive and rationalization reflexes. The open, unexplained, is perceived as a personally burdensome threat in the corona crisis. Because this threat is not at fault, the countermeasures ordered are perceived as unreasonable. Finally, guilty parties can be found for the unreasonable demands - the governments.

Waiting for the next day

The circular argument leads to a paradox: the measures taken are presented as exaggerated and necessary at the same time, as without alternative and too difficult to cope with. In the breast of the self-proclaimed experts live two souls who remain unreconciled.

But because it is about an acutely threatened life that has to be saved, only one thing can follow from the insight into the necessity of the measures: patient waiting for the next day, the new figures, the further development. That sounds like little - and yet it demands so much.

Nothing is set in stone. We neither know the course of the crisis, nor can we measure its collateral damage. But day by day we know more - also about ourselves, our patience, our willingness to endure. The “defiant nonetheless” that characterizes our life could also guide us in a crisis.

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