“What Is Too Far?” by Ben Jones


Amigo Ben Jones in his latest writing on the COVID-19 pandemic is sparked by the non-compliance movement within his home state of Michigan, reflecting on the interconnectedness of us all. Understanding and sharing the frustrations of having to stay home and seeing similar defiance spreading across the country, Jones remains committed to following the guidelines our government has mandated … and hopes you do, too. Read his full post:

“What Is Too Far?” by Ben Jones

Ben JonesMichigan –– my state –– is prominent in the news right now, especially with the growing “I WILL NOT COMPLY” movement. In fact, our governor, Gretchen Whitmer, is likely to be looked back upon by historians writing about America’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak as the poster person for how NOT to contain a pandemic in a state.

But then again, who really knows?

We’re all reading tea leaves and trying to make decisions in the moment, based on fluid and ever-changing data, science and modeling. Not one thing that we as a nation are dealing with is static. COVID-19 and everything associated with it is dynamic.  So, the media is already condemning Governor Whitmer, as if their modeling is somehow more accurate and a better predictor of the future. We are not privy to, nor do most of us have the time, to read through thousands of pages of technical, medical and economic modeling, a portion of which changes daily. We don’t know what we don’t know and this fact alone means we should be less judgmental.

We ALL try to predict the future. We may do this knowingly and unknowingly, but we do it all the time. The truth is, we suck at it.  Planning for future events is a great idea: build models, create scenarios and be prepared to act. But to worry about whether our prediction of the future is correct, all we are accomplishing is self-induced anxiety. With that anxiety comes a rooted belief that we are right, and when our version of right doesn’t materialize, we start to change the criteria to more closely match what we want for an outcome, others be damned.

COVID-19 is bigger than me, bigger than us, bigger than our industry. The future will play out and ultimately take care of itself. Our job is to be open to outcome through acute preparation,  contemplative readiness and to be in a position to respond with intent to what is happening around the world, in our country, our states and our neighborhoods.  Our preparedness must include options, with sound action, to resume daily life and reopen businesses.

In the coming days and weeks, a more expansive base of information will emerge about the virus. Some early predictors will be discredited and others affirmed.  New information will come to light and certainly, somebody will step up to take credit. Finger-pointing and politics will come into play, as the number of deaths, the cause, the exclusivity of the virus to be deaths agent will certainly be spun in the media. The result: more frustration and disagreement in terms of relief. Are you optimistic or pessimistic? Will you point the finger and place blame at someone as a means of restitution?

We were handed the present. No one asked for it, few saw it coming, and most of the world was unprepared.

We are in this together. Together doesn’t always mean equal or fair, but it does mean together. Most Americans are getting frustrated with self-isolation, quarantine and the omnipresent unknown. As the precious commodity of time extends isolation, the timeline for tolerance gets shorter.

In Michigan, signs reading “I WILL NOT COMPLY” are seen around the state’s capital of Lansing and are beginning to show up in many parts of the state, particularly in rural areas.

I get it. I want out, just like most of you. I want to be out-of-home with no more Groundhog Day and to get back into some semblance of normalcy. But I am committed to doing this the “right way,” heeding the CDC and WHO guidelines and adhering to the nation’s orders because I recognize no human right is unlimited and right now our ability to engage, connect with others and move around the nation is, in fact, limited.

As Disney’s Lion King reminds us, there is a circle of life. We are all interconnected in that circle, just as the decisions, directions and restrictions for COVID-19 are all interconnected. We may not feel the crisis the same as our neighbor. We may not agree with state mandates. And, many outliers will resist the idea that they are even inside the circle. Make no mistake, we are ALL in this together, connected by crisis and we must all do our part to support humanity. Commitment is easier than compliance and is far more productive.

The right we have in America to complain –– to raise our voice in opposition to policy, laws, mandates or simply something we disagree with –– brings with it the equal and opposite obligation to be part of the solution. Right now, the best solution available –– and the one that is mitigating COVID-19 around the world –– is “self-isolation” by social distancing.  The circle of life asks that we “live with purpose and act with intent.” The intent of self-isolation is clear: emerging from CV-19 isolation with less fear, more certainty and a pandemic under control within the limits of our health systems and resources. Join with all of humanity, as together we lead as one, knowing we are better together. Stay home.


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