We Failed, but How?

My teachers always returned tests to me after grading them. This gave me a chance to see which questions I missed and to learn from my mistakes. Nobody enjoys seeing their mistakes, but understanding what went wrong is a valuable part of the learning process. And since the teachers understood the subject material, they could tell me how to solve the problem and help me understand how to extend what I learned to new problems.

The new rounds of state and local Covid-19 restrictions feel as though we have somehow failed a test. We wear masks, keep our distance from people outside family, give up handshakes and hugs from friends, watch public schools try to educate without classroom teaching, witness businesses and restaurants struggle to survive, and suspend our first amendment rights for freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of religion under the US Constitution. And yet the darkly threatening words of governors, supervisors, and mayors in California, Illinois, New York, and elsewhere assert that since positive Covid-19 test results (i.e., “Covid-19 cases”) are dramatically on the rise, we need to do more, and more severe lockdowns may be in our future. Kind of reminds me of the inspirational poster that said, “Floggings will continue until morale improves.”

Somehow, our past eight or nine months of effort were not good enough for a passing grade. Maybe it never could have been good enough. Rather than arm-waving and pointing fingers up, down, and sideways, it would be more constructive if our governors, supervisors, and mayors could clarify the problem and outline real solutions (or admit that they don’t have real solutions). Rather than reporting one-sided stories with sensational projections, it would be more constructive if the corporate news media could at least introduce a full discussion of the relevant science, including the knowns and unknowns (I don’t expect much science literacy from our news media, though). And if our public servants and news media cannot do this, then perhaps they could earn some credibility points and maybe even some public sympathy by admitting it. If the efforts of the past months were not good enough, then maybe it is time for a different strategy. As another inspirational poster once said, “Insanity is doing something the same way again and expecting it to turn out differently.”

4 thoughts on “We Failed, but How?

  1. I think of criticism that is intended to convey knowledge in a supportive way as constructive. On the other hand, criticism that is non-educational can be and often is delivered insensitively and can be nonconstrucive to the extent of being antagonistic.


  2. One way in which we failed is that we failed to keep the goal constant. In your analogy of a test, it would be like changing some of the questions on the test after people have started taking the test. Early on in the covid-19 crisis, the stated goal (at least in WA) was to control the number of deaths. To accomplish this, we needed to limit the load placed on our medical care system. As our efforts were successful; however, the publicly stated goal shifted to preventing any more people from becoming infected. This unannounced change in goals was used as a basis for saying that we had been unsuccessful and needed to continue whatever we had been told to do, and to try harder, indefinitely.


  3. Regardless of who or why our country failed to contain this pandemic, here we are, entering the peak flu season with more positive Wuhan China originated coronavirus flu cases since the virus was released on the world late last year. Our CA governor (Newsome) is now thinking of locking down the whole state, further destroying many small businesses in the process. Never in US history have we dealt with a pandemic in this way.

    Nevertheless, we are blessed to live in the country and have only had 23 confirmed cases of the virus in south El Dorado county. We stay at home on our 60 acre vineyard and only go out to go shopping at two stores in the local area. Of course, we wear masks when we’re out. to respect the other folks in the stores that may have medical conditions that make getting sick with this virus fatal for them.

    Sadly, we have only seen our 9 month old granddaughter twice since she was born.

    I am personally looking forward to getting “back to normal” after the vaccination has been broadly administrated. Until then, I will hunker down with my family, socially isolating ourselves until enough of us have been vaccinated to make this crisis disappear.


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