The encouraging messages of scientists in times of bad news
„We are living in strange times. Certainly, we had never seen before a pandemia of such a worldwide spread and we were not quite ready to deal with its consequences. Now we find ourselves in the unexpected situation of a lockdown and confinement that, in general, is not easy to cope with. The break of normal life, the impossibility to work for many people, the difficulty of trying to work at home for some other people, economic difficulties for those who cannot run their business, challenging situations for those with kids, logistic difficulties in every household, claustrophobia, anxiety… All of these are part of a reality that has abruptly changed, and I would add yet another dimension to the situation: confusion, a great deal of confusion. We see contradictory messages everywhere, on TV and other official media, among friends and relatives and, as expected, on social media. All of this contributes to, amplifies, and multiplies the confusion and the ensuing anxiety. I think it is better to escape from it.
I know everybody is entitled to having an opinion, but only very few are worth listening to. When it comes to the pandemia, we should listen only to the experts, who have fact-based justified claims, and to decision makers because they really determine our conditions. Let the health-care professionals and the experts on life sciences analyze the situation and give practical advice to the population and to the governments. The rest of us should just listen and follow their guidelines until the medical crisis is over. Then, there will be plenty of time to discuss, to evaluate responses, to look for culprits, and decide accordingly. But for the time being, since I am not one of these specialists, my only advice is: let us keep silent and carry on.
Let us turn off our TVs, smartphones, internet, as much as possible, and, if we are not required to do something crucial outside, let us stay at home and focus on our real areas of responsibility: our family and ourselves. Use this special time that we have been given to offer our children (and every member of the family) the attention and dedication that they always deserved. Use it as well to spend time with ourselves, just alone, in silence, in reflection (in prayer or meditation, if you want), reading the books that were in the queue for a long time, listening to music, etc. It is an opportunity that will not easily appear again. Be happy, be silent, and let us all meet again as better people when this will be over.“
Mathematician and philosopher, Institute of Information Theory and Automation (UTIA), Czech Academy of Sciences Akademie věd České republiky