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Less personal threats are less concerning

Reader comment on item: Shaken Out of Complacency by COVID-19?

Submitted by Dave (United States), Apr 9, 2020 at 08:44

One would hope that the virus scare would shake people out of their complacency about other, more long-term threats like EMP or Islamism, but that may be asking too much. Even the most well-informed people tend to be more concerned about things which affect them immediately and personally. The virus falls into that category, as well as other imminent threats like natural disasters, wars or crime. That's why the news tends to focus on sensational domestic issues and generally ignores less dramatic events not immediately relevant to the audience. To be well-informed, one must access other sources, but that requires effort and curiosity.
Just look at what people are scarfing up in the stores: water and toilet paper are two of the most intimate and personally essential items, never mind that they have little bearing on the flu. When people feel threatened they curl up into a sort of metaphorical ball in order to protect themselves and reach for the familiar. Just underneath the surface we all just animals driven by our primitive survival instincts.
The challenge is to convince people that our survival, both physical and civilizational, depends on looking outside the immediate and obvious. A lot of trouble could have been avoided if more attention had been paid to the ideas and intent of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, but at the time, Nazism seemed like too distant a threat to worry about, hence the appeal of isolationism. Unfortunately, history could repeat itself.

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