My parents, both of them above eighty, live independently quite far from where I live. They have been healthy and active, mostly with regular medical attention. Last month both of them needed more medical attention than usual. Normally they require help around the house, now the help is indispensable.
But there is a pandemic on, especially where they live. There is no way to make sure that the person who visits to help them with the chores can remain regular. Also, it becomes all the more important that the helper is healthy and isn’t carrying germs, because that would be risky.
I guess lots of people all over the world have similar concerns.
Coups, wars and pandemics lead to a disruption in the status quo. In all these occurrences there is some change in our daily routine. We may miss school or may be excused from our jobs. We may even lose the job, the chance to educate ourselves, or our lives. Uncertainty is the hallmark of these critical periods. We don’t behave in the usual way, following a routine. We may start looking for cues from the unfolding events or guidance from others around us.
One key aspect of a situation of crisis is that it brings to the fore persons who would be leaders. These would be leaders have strong opinions for dealing with the crisis at hand and they are sure that their ideas are the best. Often these leaders are imbued with a very key characteristic which may be called the ‘shepherd syndrome’. They would like sheep who would follow them. They want their flocks to increase in numbers. A crisis is the breeding ground for leaders.
So it is but natural that an emergency, which can have an initial phase of disruption and uncertainty will possibly be handled by the surest of the leaders. This leader will guide the flock and with her confidence take command of the situation. The success of the leader may result in improved discipline while at the same time a curtailment of personal liberties.
The flock is mostly content to follow their leader. The leader may even command devotion which may keep increasing with each success. Also with each bold decision, a leader is putting herself at risk, of criticism, condemnation, even reprisal; as history confirms. The more novel the crisis, the more disruptive are the decisions needed to deal with it and the greater is the risk for the leader and her flock. Better understanding may reduce the risk for the flock and the leaders
The link below is an article by Ed Yong in “The Atlantic”. The article gives much needed perspective on the crisis at hand so that it appears slightly more familiar and just offers hope that perhaps we can deal with it with some patience, discipline and innovation in medicine.