A friend of mine posted on Facebook some of the positive sides of the actions taken to control the Coronavirus epidemic.
Some of the pluses:
“TRAFFIC is gone,
GAS is affordable,
BILLS can be extended.
KIDS are at home with their FAMILIES.
PARENTS are home taking care of their CHILDREN,
WORKING FROM HOME finally makes sense for safety reasons,
HOME SCHOOLING is now making more sense,
FAST FOOD replaced by HOME COOKED MEALS.
Hectic SCHEDULES replaced by NAPS, REST, and RELAXATION.
The AIR seems CLEANER.
The WORLD quieter.
BUYING AMERICAN PRODUCTS is making more sense.
PEOPLE are finally conscious about HYGIENE and HEALTH.
MONEY doesn’t seem to make the WORLD GO ROUND anymore.
And WE now have TIME, finally,
to STOP and SMELL the ROSES.
“Enough already… let’s get back to normal??? Maybe we should take a look at our priorities instead and create the new normal.”
One thing is certain: God is in complete control of all the circumstances and situations that surround us and may assail us, and He is well able to preserve and protect us through anything that would come against us. Christ is all-sufficient.
While nearly everything positive he said is true, there is a downside to this:
Tens of millions of people (especially those contractors and “gig” workers) have had their whole income stream stop dead (going on week 7 for me, and that doesn’t include significant amounts of lost income during the ramp down).
Across the nation, millions of people have spent dozens (and some, hundreds) of hours each trying to access the “safety net” of unemployment benefits and small business assistance loans, only to have their computer sessions and phone calls dropped. I’ve spent a large number of hours getting registered, and here in Florida I have been summarily denied twice, although I am a case study in the type of gig based employment the safety net is supposed to protect. While I have a cash emergency fund, many people do not, and at some point nearly everybody’s reserves will run out, whether some bills are deferred or not. My landlords have expenses and mortgages tied to the properties that they rent to me. They don’t owe me anything, and I don’t expect any considerations at this point.
I haven’t had to sit in lines of cars miles long trying to take advantage of food distribution, but thousands upon thousands of people have.
Fully 25% of small businesses are estimated to close their doors permanently. (In Louisiana it’s anticipated to be closer to 50%.) Given the attitude of the government in reopening businesses of my kind (conference support), I give myself about a 50/50 chance of recovering to be a functional business again.
But I’m in good company.
The restaurant business is looking at that kind of 50% failure rate across the board given the steps the government has taken and is planning to take. When at last they are allowed to open but only allowed half the seating, that means half the employees will be terminated, half the profits will be available to provide debt management, and likely half of those businesses will close.
It’s too early to gather the data, but agencies are reporting an increase in drug overdoses and anticipate an increase of domestic violence and child abuse. And the key resources to those at risk, churches and recovery groups, have their doors closed and access severely limited.
While all these numbers are sobering, we are still in the calm before the storm. The most positive estimates have the gross domestic product dropping 4% on a yearly basis, which is almost twice that of the Great Recession in 2009. I remember driving down US-1 then and seeing large and small businesses closing down and empty storefronts for mile after mile. I remember walking through Target trying to shop for a shirt and having only a handful of sizes in each color on nearly bare shelves (but not as bare as the toilet paper shelves in the grocery stores today).
The same irrational panic that triggered the run on toilet paper and like items could easily be triggered again by bad news or even vicious rumors. In the UK over 30 cell towers were burned down or vandalized and numerous telecom workers harassed by people fearing that cell towers were spreading Coronavirus. What would happen in our (or any) country if the communication infrastructure was shut down by irrational acts or by cyber activities from opposing nation-states? Self-isolation all of a sudden becomes real and a whole new level of concern. (That’s the point I might consider an early installation of my hurricane shutters.)
Chief executives of two of the largest meat packing plants in the country are predicting a breakdown in the supply chain for meat processing. Dairy farmers are pouring their milk production on the fields for fertilizer and hog producers are slaughtering thousands of animals.
Some of us are beginning to wonder about the wisdom of the steps having been taken so far, given the high infection and death rates among countries that have adopted an extremely hard lockdown, and the moderate results of the pandemic in countries that really didn’t implement a lockdown at all, such as Sweden.
Some of us are surprised at the willingness for people to give up personal freedom and the protections of the First, the Second, the 4th, the 5th, and the 8th amendments in the Bill of Rights. People have been fined $500 each for parking in a church parking lot in their cars; people have been arrested and taken to jail for allowing their children to touch playground equipment in a park opened for families. Churches and synagogues have been threatened to be closed permanently for allowing people to congregate to worship.
A analogy comes to mind: Whether it is a personal computer or a powerful file server, it’s given that some point the device is going to freeze up. Typically, just a simple reboot will bring everything back into order. In a rare instance, a computer may have to be repaired and/or have a complete refresh, a total wipe of the operating system and a full restore of it (a “bare metal” restore). When that happens, we are totally dependent on that computer’s backup.
There is no simple reboot that will fix the situation that this virus and the actions of the World Health Organization/United Nations (and our nation’s reaction to it) have created. Now we get to see how good of a backup we have. As Christians, when we put our faith and trust in Christ, we know we have the ultimate backup and restore plan. Hopefully, this worldwide crisis will point others to the only unshakable foundation –Jesus Christ — for this “bare metal” situation we find ourselves in. Indeed, when it causes us to focus on those essentials you mentioned, a situation like this can have a positive outcome counter if it’s centered in Christ. Let’s redouble our prayers towards that end.