Editorial: When Nothing is Certain

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For months now we’ve all been living under a level of uncertainty that can be hard to quantify, let alone even describe in a way that is universal. Collectively, most of us have had to adjust our daily routines and try to process the ever-changing data that seems to be guiding us through the current pandemic.

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Individually and collectively we all have to navigate the virtual minefield of misinformation and try to discern not only what is factual and what is not, but also dig deeper for source material and then attempt to become analysts of scientific reports to understand the data and then determine how much of those reports is applicable. Frankly, it is above the pay grade for many of us.

When it comes to news reporting, countless hours are spent diving down academic rabbit holes to understand the implications of what the latest published paper might mean for the average person, how it might impact the Pagan community in particular, and how to distill that information down into comprehensible sentences.

The current health crisis and pandemic has seen information and data shifting so quickly from day to day that it can be dizzying. What scientists thought and advised last week, may not be true for the next week. And it is anyone’s guess what tomorrow will bring, which creates fertile ground for sowing more seeds of uncertainty that can grow into discord, and dissention.

Our news and editorial teams spend many hours researching potential stories. As we begin digging into a topic, we often find that whatever it is doesn’t apply, can’t be verified, or isn’t supported and so the article or angle has to be adjusted or abandoned altogether. And while this is true to some extent for all writers, it is much more critical for news writers. Our readers depend on us to get it right and report the facts, whatever they may be. It is the mission everyone at TWH signed on for and is dedicated to continuing to fulfill.

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The future of Pagan gatherings, festivals, and conferences also remains in flux. The virtual experience, while filling the immediate gap for interaction, seems a poor substitute for in-person and in-depth interaction as a permanent solution. After just a couple of months of being restricted to virtual interactions, people are already experiencing what they describe as “Zoom exhaustion.”

How will our events change and adapt in attempts to keep everyone safe and comply with whatever guidance is provided by municipalities and venues? How will we determine when it is safer to interact?

Will festivals see more of a resurgence in popularity since they may provide more opportunity for  social distancing and less congregate living type scenarios, despite being more challenging when it comes to personal hygiene like hand washing and sanitization? Hotels can certainly offer better resources for hand washing stations and staff that cleans and sanitizes around the clock, but then social distancing would limit already crowded spaces and close contact areas like elevators.

All of these questions and more are swirling through people’s minds and pinwheeling endlessly on the aether that makes up the internet as everyone tries to imagine what life is going to look like in three, six, or twelve months from now.

One side effect of the pandemic is that it is prompting us to really examine both our behavioral patterns and the structure of our interactions. How much do we keep? How much is integral to the functions of our diverse communities? And how do we collectively arrive at such a consensus? Can we arrive at a consensus at all?

The questions are seemingly endless and rather than resulting in finite answers, just seem to generate more questions. Any decisions must be predicated on data that continues to evolve and shift as epidemiologists and researchers learn more about SARS-CoV-2.

Testing for both the virus and antibodies play a huge role, yet only a relatively small percentage of the population has been tested for SARS-CoV-2—as of this week a little over 16 million people out of 328 million in the U.S. have been tested, and far less have been tested for antibodies.

More questions that remain unanswered are whether or not antibodies provide any immunity and if so how long that immunity might last. And while a potential vaccine might seem like the answer in part, questions of how soon it can be produced and how safe a vaccine might be that is seemingly rushed through.

A recent poll conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed that 1 in 5 would refuse a vaccine, while 31% were unsure, and only about half saying they would get the vaccine when it became available.

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The one thing that does seem certain is that there will be no miracle solution to the current crisis, and even once we are past this we are liable to see a very changed landscape. In the meantime, there are things we can all do, collectively and separately.  We can be supportive and step in to help shoulder the burden especially when see those around us faltering under the weight they carry, setting a positive example for others. We can also be smart by double-checking that what we are sharing with others is factual, informed, and actually helpful.

As a spiritual and magical community there has never been a better time to stand together in solidarity. Similar to a rite of passage, we will come through this and be changed in ways that defy description at this point. One can only hope that the experience will leave us stronger and more committed to our diverse paths that move us all forward together.