What to say? Is the glass half full or half empty? Are we, as a global community, getting control, so to speak, of COVID-19 or not? What is the scope of the danger? What precautionary measures are most advisable?
I am reminded of Aristotle’s advice – find the golden mean between extremes and keep to it. His notion of the ethical life was to find balance: not too much, not too little; be wary, but not scared; be prudent, neither reckless nor defeatist.
When the unusual and the disconcerting and worrisome springs forth unexpectedly for no good reason, we are entitled to some degree of anxiety and even fear. But too much fear can quickly and easily push us into losing our balance.
Finding a mean, a middle way, is also a teaching of Buddhism. It is also the advice given in the Confucian text, The Doctrine of the Mean. And wisdom found in Qur’an holds that we should keep the mizan or balance.
In our principles for government, we set a standard of using discourse ethics to decide on what should be done for the common good. Our principle is:
“Public power, however allocated by constitutions, referendums or laws, shall rest its legitimacy in processes of communication and discourse among autonomous moral agents who constitute the community to be served by the government. Free and open discourse, embracing independent media, shall not be curtailed except to protect legitimate expectations of personal privacy, sustain the confidentiality needed for the proper separation of powers or for the most dire of reasons relating to national security.”
The goal of discourse ethics, really, is to guide us to a mean, a balance, a prudent course of action under the circumstances.
But discourse ethics demands reasoned consideration of all the facts. Discourse should be open to considering alternatives to conventional wisdom and imposed narratives and normative expectations.
Recently, I was sent a comment on the coronavirus written by Michael Fumento titled “Panic Never Helped Any Pandemic and Won’t Start Now.” He is little known, apparently, but has tracked contagious outbreaks for many years. His take on the growth curve of the virus differs from much that I am reading in the news.
I would be very interested in your thoughts and feedback.