Derek Tillotson

Panic and Precaution

There's a key difference between panic and precaution. It's hard to define, but Justice Potter Stewart's famous quote about pornography--"I know it when I see it"--applies nicely.

Keeping six feet away from others when you leave the home during a pandemic is a precaution.

Washing your hands regularly, even if you haven't touched anything lately, is a precaution.

Staying home unless you need to leave is a precaution.

Yelling at someone for not wearing a mask when they're 20+ feet from anyone else is a sign of panic. As is buying six months' worth of toilet paper at a time. As it stocking up heavily on food you don't even like.

Panic stems from feelings of worry. Avoiding worry is a practice that isn't always easy, but is well worth the effort. Worrying leads to nothing positive, and in fact usually leads to even more negative feelings. Worse yet, panic is contagious. When one person is in the presence of someone panicking, at the very least, there will be panic seeds planted in the brain. From there, it can only spread.

Written April 10, 2020

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