Masks? No masks? Positive test rates? 6 feet apart? Indoors? Outside? Young vs. old? What level of recovery should we be in? The list of debatable questions around COVID-19 goes on and on just as the pandemic continues to drag on. Patience is wearing thin. I can read it, see evidence of it in the news and generally feel it in my bones.

I have opinions. I have also tried to educate myself as well as I can. The combination of both opinion and education is the foundation for decisions that I need to make regarding the pandemic that affects the employees and members we serve at your cooperative. I have neither been perfect nor do I claim to have all the answers.

What I do know is debating the answers online, over email or during a socially-distanced discussion is not worth my time. When people want an argument over masks on Facebook, I choose not to participate. When a member emails to chastise me for a community donation related to the virus, I respond once with my logic and refuse a back-and-forth confrontation. On the rare occasion I have an in-person discussion, I simply change the topic.

As the length of the pandemic stretches out, people seemingly want to argue about every aspect. I see this as simple frustration which isn’t uncommon when we don’t have control of a situation. Stress and anxiety don’t bring out the best in the human race. We simply need to be aware, take a breath and “control what we can control.”

It has been my experience that people who want to debate an issue online really aren’t open-minded. What they really want is to rant on their beliefs and rip apart anything to the contrary. It’s simply not worth my time to put fuel on a fire on social media. Instead, I focus on what I believe I need to do to keep cooperative employees safe and members’ lights on.

We all have jobs and family to look after. Getting involved in needless arguments simply takes energy away from these two all important groups. There are decisions and discussions at work and home that need our complete attention. They are also areas where we all have some control. Thus, our time is better served focusing on work and family than in unwinnable debates and discussions.

Obviously, you are welcome to do as you wish. I am merely suggesting that we all win when everyone chooses to skip the forum comments, Facebook rants, email tirades and heated face-to-face confrontations. One by one, we can put out the divisive fires in our community circles. How can a fire spread if nobody is pouring gas on it?

The pandemic hasn’t gone away quickly and will not. It is time to be patient, kind and calm. When we emerge from this situation, we should be better for it. Our bonds with family and co-workers should be stronger. We accomplish this by fighting the common enemy that is the virus together rather than tossing blows at each other. So, let’s move forward with more focus on those issues we can control in our work and family circles.