An old friend has a theory. The way we look at other people’s responses to the Covid regulations reminds her of the early weeks of parenthood. Just as new parents respond viscerally to others behaving differently, so we are equally agitated by those taking a different approach to the virus.
One of the reasons we react so strongly to those following a different path is that to the judgmental — and if there is one thing this virus has made all of us it is more judgmental — the actions of others stand as a rebuke to our own choices.
Of course there is far more to it. The primary responses right now are driven by fear, anger and notions of fairness. The most frightened resent the less cautious; those more concerned with the social cost resent the fearful. Those struggling to cope resent the well-heeled demanding restrictions whose impact they cannot comprehend.
But there is definitely something to my friend’s theory. Her argument runs that in the first weeks of parenthood you feel you are being constantly judged by others, often people you do not know. Strangers feel entitled to advise you where you are going wrong and you sense disapproval everywhere.
As a new parent you are hurled into a world for which you are little prepared and your child-rearing choices feel like a statement of who you are. From the debates over epidurals to the arguments over breast milk and sleep training, every decision is a cause of angst.
1“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.