The sudden shutdown of the economy associated with the pandemic has disrupted the entire world. No one predicted the crisis and no one knows how (or when) it will end, but unexpected situations can often bring unexpected lessons. Here are a few of the things that I’ve learned from the pandemic so far.
Be prepared. This was drilled into me as a Boy Scout and affirmed numerous times throughout my life. When I wrote back in February that people should prepare for the worst-case Coronavirus scenario by stocking up on food and other supplies, there were plenty of scoffers. A few weeks later, however, grocery stores were picked clean.
It’s never a bad idea to maintain a supply of extra non-perishable food as well as water or purification tablets, batteries, an emergency radio, and a gun with ammunition. After COVID-19, I plan to add masks, gloves, sanitizer, and toilet paper to my emergency closet.
Have a nest egg. As Dave Ramsey says, it’s good to have an emergency fund. The pandemic has shown us the fragility of our economy in general and our own jobs in particular. It’s a lot easier to weather financial storms if you aren’t living paycheck to paycheck.
Saving an emergency fund isn’t easy. It requires sacrifice and forgoing immediate wants. It takes commitment not to spend the money after you’ve saved it as well. Nevertheless, at times like these, when many Americans may be wondering where their next meal is coming from, having an emergency fund makes it much easier to sleep at night.
People will panic and become irrational. A trope of disaster movies are the characters who either snap under the pressure or don’t believe the danger until it’s too late. In the Coronavirus pandemic, those parts have been played, not by the mask-wearers and people who shelter-in-place, but by those who scream that every preventive measure is tyranny and who sometimes seem to be actively trying to spread the virus by standing shoulder-to-shoulder at rallies and eschewing masks and handwashing.
Maybe the problem is an unhealthy suspicion of all things government even with their own preferred candidate and party in power. Maybe it’s a tendency to view the world through a lens of tyranny and persecution despite our blessings. Maybe it’s just paranoia.
Not wearing masks or social distancing doesn’t show that you are macho or brave. It shows that you don’t understand the science behind viral contagion and don’t have any respect for the wellbeing of your family, friends, and neighbors.
A sizable portion of the Republican Party has donned the proverbial tinfoil hat. This is closely related to the last item. Many of the people in my feed who don’t act rationally about the viral threat do so because conspiracy theories have convinced them that the threat is either fake or overblown.
I certainly don’t believe that liberals are immune to conspiracy theories but, in recent years, it seems almost axiomatic that conspiracy believers are on the right. These theories run the gamut from claims that COVID-19 is a Chinese bioweapon to theories that Bill Gates will use a vaccine to inject “mark of the beast” microchips into Americans to the belief that Coronavirus death statistics are inflated to keep the economy shut down and make Trump look bad.
It is ironic that these conspiracy believers want to reopen the economy but attack the tools that will be used to do so: masks social distancing, contact tracing, and vaccines, something I touched on yesterday. It seems that to the conspiracy crowd the only acceptable methods for dealing with the virus are hydroxychloroquine, UV light, and disinfectants.
Don’t assume that tomorrow will come. Six months ago the world looked much different than it does today and almost no one had a clue of the tectonic shift we were about to experience. Our tendency is to assume that tomorrow will be the same as yesterday and today. Jesus warned about this when he said that the last days would be like the days of Noah when everything was normal until suddenly it wasn’t (Matt. 24:37-39).
We shouldn’t assume that there will be a tomorrow. For tens of thousands of Americans, tomorrow never came. One day, tomorrow won’t come for each of us.
When we are young, death is a vague concept. As we get older, it becomes more real and can take on a uniquely personal horror. Two years ago, the truth of my own mortality became vividly clear when I was diagnosed with skin cancer. Thankfully, doctors caught my melanoma early but the fact that I had even an easily treatable cancer was a life-altering shock.
Live each day as if it could be your last because it could. I don’t mean that in the sense of “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.” I mean that we should live life with no regrets. Let your family and friends know that we love them and live your life in a way that you are ready to meet your maker at any time.
Wash your hands. Simple, effective disease prevention. Scrubbing my hands rather than rinsing will probably be a habit for the rest of my life, however long that may be.