The coronavirus, aka COVID-19, is well upon us. I’m hesitant to add my voice to all the racket, but I need to unburden myself concerning the coronavirus reality. I don’t know if I have anything new to add, but here ya go. We are capable of greatness.
- The coronavirus reality is that some politicians and their minions are using it to score points against their enemies. I find that sleazy and low. This is not a great time for people to make accusations about what should have been done. We can’t go back for a do-over on this one. We can make wise, measured, decisions going forward, but being snarky isn’t a solution. It divides us even more. That needs to quit. We need some grownups to handle this one.
- I’m in a high risk category, they tell me. The coronavirus reality is that I need to be prudent, as do other people my age. I’m not diabetic, I don’t have heart disease, or any of those other nasty ailments. I’ll do what I need to to avoid getting sick. If I get sick, I’ll try to get well. And I will get well, either here or in eternity. I prefer the first option, but I’m at peace with the second.
- This may be a fool’s wish, but historically Americans have shown themselves to be a resilient group. I know I have readers in other countries, and I’m not devaluing them. I’m just speaking to what I know. We have pulled together during the most challenging days before, and have done it in record time. What a divided country we live in! Wouldn’t it be something that part of the coronavirus reality might be that we genuinely cooperate and come together to fight a common enemy. I saw flashes of that immediately after 9/11. We are capable of greatness. What happens in the next few weeks will be teach a lot about who we are.
- There are plenty of people out there smarter than you working on this. Experts can be wrong, but I’d rather listen to a flawed expert than an assured idiot. The coronavirus reality is that, as laypeople, we don’t have all the answers because we don’t have access to all the intelligence.
- There is a huge spiritual component in the coronavirus reality. I’ll state the obvious: God’s got this. He is not wringing His omnipotent hands. He will most assuredly use this in a manner that suits Him. Folks are panicked, worldwide. Balk if you must, but for the believer, there is no reason to be anxious. Concerned and vigilant, of course. But mindless fret? Nope. God controls every germ, virus, molecule, and atom. God has sovereign control over all of creation.
- This is a great opportunity to display peace, hope, and simple sanity. The coronavirus reality is that those virtues are going to be in short supply in days to come. Don’t go there. Be more than that.
- Pray, and pray without ceasing. Mike Pence was flayed in the media for praying with a group over the coronavirus reality. I’m glad he prayed. I’m glad when we all pray. Praying that you can be a source of hope and comfort to others wouldn’t be a bad place to start. Remember, too, that health care professionals are good at what they do. All healing ultimately comes from God, the Great Physician, but He uses human agents for healing to take place.
- Don’t be afraid to laugh. I am not, not, not making light of the seriousness of this disease. But there is humor in the darkest circumstances. I’ve seen plenty of really clever memes in the last several days. If I ignore the ones in poor taste, there’s a lot that are darn funny. If you’re offended, just move on. (And before someone stuffs my inbox with comments like “Would you think it’s funny if one of your loved ones died?”, I’d think, dude, you aren’t very bright to even ask that, trying to get a “gotcha” agains me – of course it wouldn’t be funny). But there are plenty of things about toilet paper that crack me up. Humor, and especially satire, is in the eyes of the beholder. So let’s go easy on each other – we all cope in different ways. Laughing at absurdity, whether I see it in someone else or myself, works for me.
I’d rather listen to a flawed expert than an assured idiot.
I’ll wrap this by sharing a quote from one of my heroes, C. S. Lewis. These are C. S. Lewis’s words—written 72 years ago—and it rings with some relevance for us. Just replace “atomic bomb” with “coronavirus.” It’s all part of the coronavirus reality.
In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.
— “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays
Categories: U.S. NEWS