I woke up this morning to a text message from Chris’s brother. I don’t remember what it was about, as it probably was inconsequential, but the text conversation randomly took a turn for worse when he brought up that he was still upset from our family chat last Friday. For a second, I had no idea what he was referring to, as the conversation seemed quite innocuous and didn’t really cover any serious ground. But then I remembered the conversation bits I overheard before I joined, when Chris was loudly berating his brother for traveling via plane this past weekend for a long-weekend vacation and actively planning holidays during a period of a global pandemic.
I’m not sure what he was seeking from me when he shared that with me, but my first thought was: why do people focus so much on their own hurt feelings being the main issue as opposed to the actual content of what was actually said to them? If someone says something to criticize you that you find hurtful, isn’t it normal to stop and wonder why they would say that about you and whether any of it could potentially be true? Or is that just me, someone who grew up constantly getting criticized, who would think that way? It’s human nature to be defensive, but to focus on their own feelings as opposed to the content of the conversation seems childish, dismissive, and sadly, just plain selfish. Should anyone at this point in time be traveling for leisure while hundreds of thousands of people are literally contracting COVID-19 and dying from it every single day, especially when they are not even sure if they could be carriers themselves? This is even worsened by the fact that in many cases where COVID-19 cases have dropped, resurgences have been seen… 100 percent due to outsiders who have come from out of state or out of the country just for vacation — so in other words, for their own selfish benefit. I pointed all this out to him, and he simply responded, “Rehashing the conversation doesn’t help.”
Perhaps it doesn’t help to someone who cannot see outside their own bubble, who likely knows no one who has contracted COVID-19 or died from COVID-19, who merely sees COVID-19 as an inconvenience to his leisurely life instead of as a deadly pandemic that is causing global mass deaths, recessions, joblessness, and unrest. He’s still healthy, is gainfully employed. No big deal to him, right? The worst thing that has happened, as he complained about early on after only a week of lockdown in Australia, was not being able to socialize with his friends and being lonely.
I know people who have contracted COVID-19. I know a former classmate from college who has now died from COVID-19, and she had just entered her 30s. Our doorman’s brother was hospitalized for COVID-19 in his twenties for over three months, at the worst point on a feeding tube. I have a friend whose father died from suicide because he couldn’t get the medical help he needed from his opioid addictions he suffered due to a language barrier in Georgia… and the reason he was denied medical treatment was due to the local hospitals all being overwhelmed from COVID-19 cases and being forced to triage.
So, yes — maybe rehashing the conversation, the facts, the diagnoses, the deaths, will not help him understand why he’s being selfish, and instead he will continue to focus on his own hurt and pain at being accused of being “selfish” instead of thinking about the potential harm he could be causing to others. How would he feel if he knew he was responsible for someone contracting COVID-19 and dying? Would that even matter to him, especially if he didn’t even know the person? It’s unclear based on his defensiveness, his decision to shut down and not respond and speak for his actions. And honestly, I don’t really care if he’s hurt because his hurt is insignificant and meaningless next to all the people in the world today who have suffered or died from COVID-19 or been impacted by COVID-19 in a tangible way — like all the medical professionals who cannot even treat these patients and cannot even be with their own families at night; the essential workers, not to mention all the people who have lost their jobs due to this global pandemic.
This is not about choosing to live one’s life in their own way anymore, as he’s constantly arguing with his brother about. “I disagree with lots of things Chris does, and I know he disagrees with me, but we live our own lives, and not everything is black and white.” Actually, in this case, it really is black and white because this could potentially be life or death. This is about — do you give a shit about other people, or do you not?