I am writing from a Christian perspective, so the basic truth is that God is sovereign over all events, over life and death. Most of which seems like a curse at the time, turns out to have been a blessing when we look back. “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11. Here is my list of painful disciplines that will, with the proper attitude, yield peaceful fruit in time.
1. Realization of the depths of our selfishness: This is a virus that kills the elderly and the weak, but has little effect on the young and strong, the ideal laboratory for whether we, as a species will reject social Darwinism or embrace it. Many young people think, “I have little to fear from the virus, so I am safe enough to continue my usual activities.” Do you not have parents, or come into regular contact with the vulnerable? Do you even think about modifying your choices, not for you, but for the sake of not spreading the infection to others? If you even begin considering putting others first, this is the first blessing.
2. Fewer gatherings and less traffic and air travel means less greenhouse gases emitted: Will this hiatus from our usual bustling about have an impactful effect on global warming? It might, especially if we develop habits of being more selective and efficient in our traveling and congregating. Since Saint Greta has declared a temporary worldwide moratorium on “climate change” mass protests, the hysteria driving a lot of bad “climate change” ideas will subside somewhat. Why do I use the term global warming but put quotes around “climate change”? Isn’t climate change both warming and cooling? When was the last time you read about fear of global cooling? Nuff said.
3. For the United States, China’s woes give us the incentive to wean our country off our dependency on China manufacturing our vital medical supplies: Centralization of the global supply chain of medicines in a single country makes it vulnerable to interruption, “whether by mistake or design.” If we are dependent on China for thousands of ingredients and raw materials to make our medicine, China could use this dependence as a weapon against us. While the Department of Defense only purchases a small quantity of finished pharmaceuticals from China, about 80 percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) used to make drugs in the United States are said to come from China and other countries like India. While the potential exposure to raw material supply disruptions drives part of our fear, concern about the safety and efficacy of Chinese-made pharmaceuticals is another component. In the summer of 2018, one of China’s largest domestic vaccine makers sold at least 250,000 substandard doses of vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough. It was the latest in a slew of scandals caused by poor quality drug products made in China over the last decade. (Council on Foreign Relations)
4. China will also have to address their dependence on the United States for finished pharmaceuticals: China needs finished drugs made in the United States. China is facing a crisis of non-communicable diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. It is estimated that between 2002 and 2016, new cancer cases in China increased by more than 55 percent, from 2.19 million to 3.8 million. A majority of Chinese cancer patients, however, lack access to the most effective drugs. Partly because of this, cancer survival rate in China is less than half of the United States. (CFR)
5. Hopefully, the spread of Coronavirus will be the final nail in the coffin of “open borders” politics: If “open borders” is such a great idea, why is closing borders and imposing travel restrictions one of the first and most effective measures countries have implemented to protect their populace? “It’s all one world now”, you counter? Who’s imperiling their own public health measures to come to the rescue of Iran, Italy, Japan, and South Korea? Who outside of their own country is offering aid for the businesses going under because of the economic fallout? Wake up, fool. Your own citizens expect to come first, as well they should. That is the covenant between taxpayers and their government.
6. This one is a hard providence. The closing of many small businesses, and consequent layoffs, should remind us all not to presume upon the future: Adults should save first before spending, allocate income to protecting their downsides, and have enough cash reserve to weather at least 3 months without income: Financial planners have been advising the latter for as long as the profession has existed, and that includes both business interruption insurance and disability income protection.
7. Similar to the last, but applicable to larger employers, they might realize the importance of more paid sick leave: While it is ultimately the responsibility of every individual to protect themselves and their own families from the unexpected and unwelcome, large employers can do their employees a great service with more generous sick leave benefits, and/or group disability insurance.
8. Hopefully, far more individuals will become convinced to responsibly allocate part of their income to adequate health insurance and income protection (disability) insurance: The countries with the best healthcare delivery systems in the world—Singapore, Switzerland—require all citizens to have private health insurance up to reasonable limits, with the government providing additional “stop loss” healthcare. We’ve been trying to convince our uninsured citizens to get health insurance, but our younger, healthier or cheaper citizens (“I can’t afford it, my cable tv costs $120/month”) indulged in the wishful thinking, “nothing’s going to happen to me.” For years, I spent $133/month for disability I didn’t want but feared not to have. When my health fell apart, that $3,000/month tax-free income from the policy was a life saver!
9. Time for the U.S. to wake up to the fact that self-protective bureaucracies can be as stifling of the truth as a totalitarian government: The United States also had an early warning of the new virus—but it, too, suppressed that information. In late January, just as instances of COVID-19 began to appear in the United States, an infectious-disease specialist in Seattle, Helen Y. Chu, realized that she had a way to monitor its presence. She had been collecting nasal swabs from people in and around Seattle as part of a flu study, and proposed checking them for the new virus. State and federal officials rejected that idea, citing privacy concerns and throwing up bureaucratic obstacles related to lab licenses. Finally, at the end of February, Chu could stand the intransigence no longer. Her lab performed some tests and found the coronavirus in a local teenager who had not traveled overseas. That meant the disease was already spreading in the Seattle region among people who had never been abroad. If Chu had found this information a month earlier, lives might have been saved and the spread of the disease might have slowed—but even after the urgency of her work became evident, her lab was told to stop testing. Chu was not threatened by the government, like Li had been in Wuhan. But she was just as effectively silenced by a rule-bound bureaucracy that was insufficiently worried about the pandemic—and by officials at the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who may even have felt political pressure not to take this disease as seriously as they should. (various sources, including cnn.com and fee.org.)
10. I saved the best for last. We will find that home schooling and online college learning are doable, then superior, and hopefully the temporary stampede will become a long term trend: At least for the United States, the government (public) schooling establishment—teacher unions, federal department of education (with guaranteed student loans and Pell Grants), the various social experiments with curricula and student composition—has been an expensive, unmitigated disaster. Anything that undermines their power is a good thing. In 1997, I first heard a guy named Rush Limbaugh use the prophetic term, young skulls full of mush, to describe our youth….. and that was way back when kids still believed that there were only two sexes and men could not give birth!
Social distancing” is the new catchphrase for how we are advised to behave. Staying away from other people is the best tool everyday people have to flatten the rising curve of contagion and lessen the potential impact on hospitals and caregivers. That’s quite a struggle for humans, who naturally depend on dozens of everyday social interactions. Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher, mordantly captured the essence of our lives 350 years ago: “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” I don’t know about all……but certainly most!
Oh yeah, there’s a #11: If there are any hippies left, they will be forced to wash up…..or go to the great head shop in the sky.