Did you just stumble into a political virtue signal, or was that sequined designer mask a fashion statement? You may believe that masks are not remotely effective – even harmful – or conversely that others aren’t taking restrictions seriously enough. There are cities already installing mask cams for the alleged “violators.” Needless to say, not all are by any means comfortable with the slippery slope of governmental intrusion and control they are witnessing.

No matter what your view, we have all seen politicians mandating us to hunker down indefinitely, while they set off in private jets to their upscale, boogie hot spots. Some of us know a small business owner who is suffering and agonizing, trying to make a living, while Amazon and Walmart record unprecedented profits. Our places of worship are practically outlawed, schools arbitrarily opened then closed, while inconsistent messages from the government continue to morph and mutate on a daily and monthly basis.

Agree to disagree is easier said than done. So how can we possibly eliminate friction with our friends and families? And by the way, when did we stop allowing a free exchange of ideas without fear of intimidation and rebuke? They say: Beware of the half truth. You may have gotten hold of the wrong half.

Indeed, people who are medically vulnerable may need to practice a different level of care at this time. What of those who are emotionally vulnerable? We must always be mindful of what other people’s boundaries are. Please do not allow differences to strain your family relationships or friendships. Whether we like it or not, humans will always have different views of risk, and how best to handle them.

Were you aware that, last year in this country, nearly 40,000 people died in car accidents? Some 4.5 million others required medical attention from car crashes. Yet most of us still drive, and some even over the speed limit. Speaking of which, ever wonder how police on bikes arrest people? “All right, get in the basket.” Heh. Listen, I’m speeding because I have to get there before I forget where I’m going. But I digress…

Feel free to communicate your feelings and fears with loved ones non-defensively. Ask him what makes him feel comfortable at this time. Bear in mind that everyone has her own “trusted” sources, or whom she may consider health “experts.” Speak with kindness and listen with the intention of understanding her perspective. Realize that after absorbing what the media feeds day and night, your friend’s fears and stress levels may be out of bounds. Know this, sweet friends: No matter what their perspective is about this coronavirus horror, everyone wants to feel safe, secure, and loved.

You may have heard a loved one argue: “Stay at home, away from loved ones.” “It’s no big deal,” they say. Others are counting the cost of isolation to even healthy people. When was the last time you heard a public health official cite statistics about the horrendous rise in domestic violence, alcoholism, and drug abuse relapse? Or the fact that incidents of depressive symptoms have tripled since lockdowns, or the 25 percent of people, aged 18-24, having thoughts of killing themselves; while many actually have. Please hear them out.

Unintended consequences of the safety mania include loved ones dying alone, financial ruin to small businesses, marriages collapsing under this incredibly unnatural lifestyle – not to mention the colossal increase in anxiety and sleep disturbance. Perhaps you or a loved one is suffering at this very moment.

Many of us have relatives who could not attend their own family member’s funeral. Challenges of home schooling, working from home, and unending uncertainty take their toll on all of us. “Anti-social distancing” destroys our very humanity and peace of mind. Please don’t get caught up in endless bickering. I know: You wish more people were fluent in silence. Go ahead and share. It’s been said: Say what you mean, but don’t say it mean.

This Rona nightmare has different meanings and effects on each one of us, so now is the time to put yourself in his shoes. Yes, his beliefs about the severity or how to handle the risk of a contagious virus clashes with yours. Do not allow that to degenerate into a constant war of words, or heated arguments. The whole world need not abandon their well-thought-out views in favor of the government’s or even yours, my friends.

Speaking of opinions…I want people’s opinions to help me decide something:

I just received an automated phone call saying that I’ve won either $100 cash or two tickets to an Elvis Presley tribute concert. Should I press “1” for the money or “2” for the show? It’s okay to tell him a corny joke to break the ice: Why can’t sunglasses have political opinions? Because they’re so polarizing. Sheesh. I know. I don’t really care about your opinion. Left will always be cozy and warm, and right will always be cold and bitter. That’s how the sink works. Heh.

You probably haven’t had hundreds of arguments. You most likely had the same argument hundreds of times. Believe it or not, there still may be something of value in a perspective you may not agree with. Even strangers on the street have now become accustomed to expressing their views in a direct, forceful way. Instead of taking away others’ rights to make choices, communicate the possible benefits you see from adhering to the rules that make you feel safe.

Remind each other that we all want this misery to end. It’s okay to have polar opposite viewpoints. Don’t let differences of opinion throw a wrench into your bonds with those you love. Yes, people are ideologically split these days. Remember that we can all counter one another with criticism, statistics, or impersonal facts. Instead, share how this is personally affecting you and what your concerns are.

If you drew that line in the sand and your relationships are now damaged, no one has won anything. Please allow for meaningful, logical discussions to support your views. Real openness and vulnerability can only happen when we believe someone is coming from a place of love or care for us. And believe it or not, your own viewpoint may be radically different than it is by next week. Free hint: People argue less on a full stomach. So give ’em some sugar, spice, and a large pizza slice. No matter how sad you feel, just remember that somewhere in the world a kid just dropped his ice cream. And by the way, don’t you think nutrition labels should include a “What if I ate the whole dang thing” section?

Additionally, if she doesn’t validate your opinion, take the high road anyway. Everyone appreciates your honesty – until you’re honest with them. Volume won’t necessarily succeed where logic failed, so keep your voice down, please. Do research and think for yourself. It’s far better to live one day as a lion than a lifetime as a sheep. And remember, sweet friends: Right to an opinion does not make the opinion right.

Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.