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Is it Social or ANTI-Social Responsibility? Balance, NOT Judgment, is Key.

I am WELL-aware I am not perfect; in fact, far from it. But you know what? Neither is anyone else, which is one of the very few certainties in life.

And thankfully, all those remaining uncertainties are what make life so interesting and relationships so compelling and experiences so worth experiencing.

As a human, I strive for empathy, compassion, and understanding first and foremost, not judgment. I believe a physician cannot be the healer s/he claims to be unless s/he has a foundation based in these fundamental decencies.

My role as a physician is not only to educate others, but to recognize more often than not people just want

To be heard.

To be seen.

To be acknowledged.

And NOT be judged.

My oldest friend in the world is Warren, who I have been friends with for 31 YEARS - yes, he experienced little glass-faced Manoj first-hand. I love him to death.

But man, we disagree on SO MANY THINGS. Including COVID.

We have had "talks" where if you were an outsider looking on, you would probably think we hate each other and would never speak to one another again. But we love one another, and I know he is a good human being even if his beliefs at times are the total opposite of mine. But this is just a part of our journey as friends.

We all need to find that balance between our mind and our heart. I have no interest in having friends and family who only share my view. But I expect them to be able to make an intelligent, respectful arguments in support of their view, even if I vehemently disagree. I have NO issue with those who disagree with anything I have posted. But if you do challenge my scientific assertions or personal choices, please back up your position with evidence from respected sources or data; I am happy to learn, be corrected, and/or engage in intelligent, civil discourse. But gut instinct or pure emotion need not apply. Because doing so just demonstrates how society chooses to judge others before seeking to understand others. And when this occurs, it is easy to see why our country is as divided as it is. The above is the same request I have made of those opposed to vaccinations. My role as a physician is not to fear-monger, but to educate and model behavior I believe to be acceptable based on following common-sense precautions, and the most current data and recommendations by our health departments that are NOT politically-motivated. And as a result, my beliefs, suggestions, and behaviors MAY change depending on the situation at hand. And just because they may have changed, it does NOT make me the hypocrite a few have claimed me to be. Ouch, indeed. I truly believe if people can see there is even a SLIVER of hope that some degree of normalcy IS possible if social responsibility is widely practiced, this will do wonders for peoples psyche and make it MORE likely people stay vigilant and remain socially responsible on a daily basis, NOT the opposite. Social responsibility does NOT equal anti-social responsibility. Because let's be real, folks: people are saying FUCK THIS all over the country.

Fuck masks.

Fuck distancing.

Fuck science.

Fuck not being able to see family or friends.

Fuck. It. All.

People are SICK of COVID and everything related to it.

And many of those same people are the ones spreading misinformation, intentionally or not, as a result. Finding a balance is the only way to keep those thoughts at bay. But this is a team game.

The choices made in our personal lives should NOT impact anyone who does not share our level of risk tolerance. We should ALWAYS wear masks and social distance when possible around strangers or the vulnerable. We should ALWAYS respect the comfort level of those around us.

And if we find out we have been in close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, we should ALWAYS quarantine and await testing. And so should the friends and family we choose to come into contact with.

So if socially responsible, young, and healthy friends choose to take a group picture for a minute without a mask on, then that is their choice.

If socially responsible, young, and healthy individuals choose to travel, while wearing an N95 for the entire duration of the flight and taking common-sense precautions, avoiding high-risk situations, and respecting other individuals risk tolerance, then that is their choice.

Those choices should NEVER impact anyone besides those who CHOOSE to accept the risk of being around us. Though trusting those we choose to interact with is of the utmost importance.

So if you do not feel comfortable with the choices of others, then that deserves respect. But this does not mean their choices are NECESSARILY irresponsible. The whole picture needs to be taken into account, not just a snapshot.

But not just the figurative snapshot - the literal one as well. Whether during a pandemic. Or during a birthday party from 2017, as shown above.

But do not get me wrong: we need to continue to challenge those who do not follow common-sense precautions and are not socially responsible. But challenge does not mean berate or resort to childish name-calling before understanding.

Ultimately, I know this: attempting to be safe 100% of the time is a fool's errand for most. This is the equivalent of trying to stay the course on a crash diet for months on end without respite.

People will inevitably get derailed. And the binging will commence.

A moderate, realistic solution almost always trumps an extreme and idealistic one. 

It is okay to search for balance. It is okay to have the occasional cheat to maintain your sanity. And as a result, a balanced outlook likely has the best chance to keep people on track to be socially responsible in the long term.

You just have to make sure you have earned those extra calories, is all.

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