As a result of the quarantine, most of us are engaging in a considerable amount of introspection, maybe just some old fashion navel-gazing. But sometime and somehow the coronavirus is not going to be the controlling force in our lives. We will emerge from our caves, blinking our eyes in the harsh light of day and move ahead.
What we need to do, however, is to look into the future. An old saying about military leaders is they are always fighting the last war instead of looking ahead to what the next battlefield will be. After 9/11, people were worried about anybody who looked Arabic being on an airplane with them. Our view of the Islamic religion seemed to have come from the period of Crusades. It was as if we perceived everybody who was going to be an Islamic terrorist as wearing a caftan and living in a land of sand. This unfortunate view of things caused us to miss a few million potential terrorists scattered across the globe, none of them living in an area featuring sand or wearing caftans.
Many people in Northwest Ohio have stockpiled water bottles in their basements as a result of the Toledo algae-created water crisis of August, 2014. For the ensuing 5 ½ years, our water supply has been fine, and at least not subject to the restrictions imposed back in the day.
Every few years a group asserts that the world is in its final days, and soon Jesus or Vishnu or whomever they think is in charge will return and straighten things out, or destroy all of us. And the date passes and they have to go home and pick up on the missed car payments. Don’t get me wrong. I am a practicing Christian, it’s just that I don’t think Jesus’s message was that we should go home and sit around and anticipate when He is going to return.
My concern is that whenever the coronavirus or Covid-19 is not on the front page, a great deal of time will be spent preparing for its return. I have no confidence that our next crisis is going to stem from its reappearance. To be sure, we will have many crises in the future and many of them will be as completely unanticipated as this one was, although Bill Gates certainly has bragging rights for having called it in 2015. So, for whatever it is worth, what do I think you should do? Here are my thoughts.
First, remember that this is your life and instead of being mentally cabined in by the fear and inconvenience of this event, we need to focus on the good things that happen every day. The interaction with family, the time to reach out to old friends, the chance to read books we’ve meant to read and watch movies we never had the time to see.
Second, work on developing a mental state that keeps you flexible. Pastor Phillip Ryburn said during his sermon at Cornerstone Church Sunday the most important skill in the future is going to be being able to “pivot.” Since we cannot anticipate the next crisis we need to consider what our nations’ enemies will do with this experience. Will this cause those who hate us to begin developing viruses like COVID-19 to disrupt our economy? While I by no means think that China intentionally carried out the spread of the virus, that doesn’t mean that someone else won’t. And when one considers how fast the virus spread, without a lot of difficulty a group could make our lives pretty miserable.
Our predecessors learn hard lessons from the Great Depression about conserving and not expending unnecessarily. We should do the same. We need to have nest egg to carry us through those tight times. Recognize that we are not going to be able to do that the first day, but if you start with a couple of pennies the first day by the end of a couple of years you will have thousands of dollars set aside. Be attentive to your spending.
And last learn that as difficult and uncomfortable as it will have been, we made it through. The vast majority of us will survive and the good news for any of you who have contracted the virus is that you have built an immunity that will protect you for some period of time.
Be ready to fight the next crisis, not the last ones.