Raleigh, N.C. – To say the 2020s have been off to a rocky start is an understatement. We have witnessed school shootings, earthquakes, and massive and destructive wildfires; and the US nearly went to war with Iran. At present, we are grappling with a viral pandemic that has brought a roaring US economy to its knees and claimed the lives of more than 17,000 people worldwide (at the time of writing). In its wake, the virus has left countless families without a reliable source of income as businesses nationwide have been shuddered. Dark times are upon us but today I want to give you a few words of encouragement.
#1: Crisis drives innovation.
It remains to be seen which changes, if any, that have been implemented during the current pandemic will be permanent. We should be hopeful, however, that changes which were made freely by private businesses to stop the spread of infectious diseases will stay in place after this crisis is over. For example, the self-serve flasks of milk and cream at coffee shops, the communal wine chalices offered during religious services, and public water fountains, especially those in hospitals and nursing centers, should each go away forever because all of them harbor hepatitis. Hospitals are screening and restricting visitors – which should have happened a long time ago. Restaurants, gyms, and grocery stores are also making efforts to increase their sanitation. All of these changes are for the better and if we keep them in place permanently we will have a healthier society on the back-end.
Even the do-nothing-Democrats can get on board with some of the changes we are seeing. If your goal is to reduce our carbon footprint, then let us encourage businesses to transition more people to work-from-home jobs. If you value bringing jobs back to the low-income neighborhoods, then let us fix the medical supply chain such that medical supplies are manufactured in the US and are readily available for use in the event of another pandemic. If you want to improve our education system, then let us restructure our processes such that we treat high school more like community college, with online classes that can be taught across state lines, and treat community college more like vocational school instead of using it for remedial or general education. If you want to increase access to healthcare, then let’s keep investing in tele-health and video-based appointments whenever it’s appropriate. These are not partisan sticking points – they are common-sense innovation. Let us come together on the important topics and make some good out of this situation.
#2: Crises foster unity.
We are never more unified then immediately after a tragedy, so perhaps this pandemic will serve as a reset button for our country. Just like any other natural disaster, we always prove ourselves to be less polarized than we realize. When deaths are measured by hundreds, or even thousands, made-up problems like misgendered pronouns suddenly seem small in comparison. The stupid and insignificant things we typically argue about matter even less when lives are actually on the line. So let us strip away the fluff and stupidity our society typically thrives on and focus our energy, as one cohesive people, on real-life problems. I believe the underlying heartbeat of our nation is marked by unity and care for others; that we are truly one nation, under God, indivisible. So, stop panic-buying toilet paper and call your neighbor instead to see if they need supplies. Allow our common viral enemy to make us stronger together.
#3: Crisis is temporary.
Remember of the words of the Apostle Paul:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18).
In its proper context, the verse speaks of living a righteous and holy life in a world that hates any semblance of righteousness or holiness, and that message is still relevant today. However, it also reminds us that all of the problems we face today are only temporary. Even the very worst times in human history: like the bubonic plague, the World Wars, and other countless natural disasters have each come and gone. This present pandemic, and all of the headaches that have come with it, will also fade away. One day, on the other side of life, we will finally see how each of our present problems and heartaches fit into the bigger and more beautiful picture God is painting. Although we cannot see it right now “the glory that is to be revealed to us” is certainly worth the wait.
We have not yet seen the worst effects of this virus and only time will tell its full impact. For many people, life will not go back to normal. Lives will be lost. Businesses will be closed. Many people’s health will be forever changed. The silver lining is that some small measure of good will come out of this pandemic. We’ve already improved treatment protocols for acute respiratory illnesses. Many businesses and schools have found more efficient ways to operate. Moving forward, I am hopeful we will find a more unified, kinder, and humble society than we have seen in many years.