The ITALIAN Job
By Dr. Terry Macaluso, Head of School
I feel like I’m in graduate school again. The same research skills I used then—to discover what I could about a potential Sartrean ethic—are coming in handy once again! Who says a philosophy degree is worthless?? I spent 3 years in the graduate student reading room in the University of Colorado (Boulder) Library. And when I say I spent 3 years there—I mean I spent 3 years there—after all course work was completed.
It feels like 3 years since COVID-19 took over.
I’m reading everything I can find. I’m listening to testimony from Dr. Anthony Fauci before a senate panel, and waiting for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s regular briefings on NYC. Can’t help but notice that people of Italian heritage (my people) are on the front lines of problem solving. That just compounds the pressure.
It’s interesting to me to watch us all try to understand more than we can actually understand. We want to understand things that are not—yet. Every scenario is based on a series of assumptions. Since we all come to the activity of thinking from a host of different backgrounds and experiences, all those assumptions vary. So, we start with not knowing anything. Then we make up stuff that might happen. Finally, we argue about which of our made up potential solutions about a problem we don’t understand might be correct.
We just cannot help ourselves. We’re not satisfied with, “We don’t have the data we need to recommend a solution.”
It’s a problem with patience and our anticipatory genes. I don’t know whether other animals do this, but I think we might be the only species that can imagine what is not yet the case. We worry. We worry about all kinds of things, but we REALLY worry when we have no idea what we’re worrying about.
One more untested assumption on my part—up until now, I have thought that women worry more than men do. Why would I think that? Men don’t care any less than women do about quality of life or about making informed decisions. But—and I’ll just speak for myself here—I think of worrying as the prelude to solving problems. What else would motivate us to go to the trouble of having an idea? I’ve always assumed that the “worry gene” was different for men than for women. At last, I understand how that idea took hold of me.
As COVID-19 continues to occupy our attention I have started to worry about the idea that Italians are the worriers. Dr. Fauci is worried. Governor Cuomo is worried. I’m worried. What’s the common denominator here?
Oh…and this, just in, Nancy Pelosi is promoting a 3 trillion dollar COVID-19 aid package. What can I say?
In fact—I think the quartet of Fauci, Cuomo, Pelosi and Macaluso are doing enough worrying for everyone. I just wanted to let you know that you could relax.
-Taken from the May 12, 2020 Community Briefing