What is wisdom?
Wisdom is knowing that while a bread knife and chainsaw are both capable of cutting something in two, our knowledge of each teaches us they have very different uses. And as exciting as it might be to cut a loaf of bread in two with a chainsaw, it wouldn’t exactly be prudent.
When it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, I believe we need to exercise some practical wisdom.
There are some of you who are treating this as a “meh” event. You think it to be a gross overreaction by just about everyone. You consider the warnings of numerous experts and government officials to be about on par with your local weatherman who forecasts a hurricane or blizzard that never materializes.
Then there are those of you who are at the other extreme, fighting with people in the aisles of Costco and Walmart for the last ply of toilet-paper. It reminds me of folks here in the South that wipe the grocery stores out of bread and milk anytime a snowstorm is threatening. I’ve lived in the South most of my life, and I still don’t get this (let me know if you do).
Both individuals above I believe are fools.
People With Their Heads In The Sand
The first group of people are fools because they are denying the raw factual data we have right now that shows the coronavirus is not something we should trifle with or make light about. It’s a deadly disease for which there currently is no cure for, and which our immune systems are simply not prepared to fight. It has the potential to make tens of millions of people in America seriously sick, and to cause millions of others to possibly die.
All evidence shows this virus is worse than the seasonal flu. Without successful mitigation, coronavirus has the potential to crash our economy, cripple our medical system, and overwhelm our government. People who ignore this possibility are no different than those who see a category 5 hurricane approaching and decide they’ll just ride it out if things get bad. And such people ultimately overwhelm the system on the back-end, and find themselves in need of rescuing after every storm. Their cynical and scoffing attitude will lead to the ruin of many, including themselves.
The second group of people are fools because they are overwhelming the system on the front-end. Their panic is purely reactionary, not based on facts, and is assuming the absolute worst case scenario is going to play out. As a result, they hoard everything they can get their hands on.
Such ultimately deprives others of the resources they need to also ride out the coming storm. And should things actually get bad, your neighbor who was unable to get enough of resources to fend for themselves may suddenly come to you looking for help. Such an attitude is the equivalent of taking out your neighbors knee-cap and then telling them to run.
If you are a hoarder, I hope you have a bunker ready. You might need it should things go south quickly.
Take Reasonable Precautions
I have no idea how the coronavirus is actually going to play out. In spite of serious escalations in the last week alone, I remain cautiously optimistic about the future. However, all evidence points to this storm strengthening. And I feel like we are living on the eve of a hurricane making landfall.
What level of storm will the coronavirus be? I am personally unsure. I personally think on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the worst possible case scenario, I believe this will probably fall somewhere near a 4 in the grand scheme of things. But make no mistake, I believe this will be a major historical event that is talked about for the rest of my life, and for years to come after that. Indeed, the coronavirus is already a problem of historic proportions.
Proverbs 22:3 says, “The prudent sees danger and takes cover, but the simple keep going and suffer the consequences.” I would encourage you, whoever you are, to make reasonable precautions in light of the coming storm. A storm is coming, and we should prepare while there is still time to do so.
What Should You Do To Prepare
Whatever that is will depend on your exact situation, so it is hard to tell you exactly what you should do. Here’s a list of what I personally recommend and am practicing.
- Listen closely. Pay attention to the reported data, news, and government officials. Ignore “memes,” ignore naysayers, ignore doomsdayers.
- Consider whatever suggestions your local government officials and other leaders in your community are making. And as much as possible, be proactive instead of reactive. Otherwise the government may be forced to take actions you’d rather not have them take.
- If you can afford to do so, buy enough food to hold you and your family over for 2 weeks. Buy some extra to help others you know to be in possible need. I recommend keeping it simple. Canned goods, boxed items, nuts, frozen vegetables, frozen meat, and some basic fluids. Look for things high in protein, and ultimately nutritious.
- Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. Don’t pick your nose. And otherwise practice good hygiene. If possible keep some hand sanitizer or wipes in your car so you can quickly clean yourself up after being in public.
- Exercise, eat healthy, take your vitamins, stock up on prescription medicines if needed, and get outside and enjoy some sunshine. Get your flu shot if you didn’t already (it’s still technically flu season).
- Limit your social interactions, but stay connected. Small groups should be okay, but I would stay away from anything larger than a handful of people in the near future (which probably won’t be hard to do). Try not to touch anyone for a while. Stay away from folks you think are sick, and distance yourself from those who are the most vulnerable. Be as social as reasonably possible.
- Have some cash on hand. Don’t stuff your mattress with thousands of dollars, but if you can afford to have a couple hundred bucks in your wallet, you never know what you might need.
- Be a real neighbor. Look out for people around you in need. Know that people are going to be stressed out and afraid. This is a great time to learn to practice patience, kindness, and otherwise love on people going through hard times. People might be confused and act irrationally. Be the person creating peace in the midst of a troubled sea. Help anyone that you can. Keep your distance from troublemakers looking to exploit the bad fortunes of others.
- Keep paying your bills, keep giving money to your church, and if possible, continue to try and shop locally. If possible, get take-out food from your favorite mom and pop restaurant. While times like these might encourage us to “hunker down” and stop spending altogether in order to prepare for the worst, the truth is, because of the nature of our economy, if we stop spending, everything will come to a sudden and violent crash. This will create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Live generously.
- Laugh. Tell jokes. Sing. Be cheerful. Pray. Praise God. Greet people (just don’t touch them). Talk about the good things in life. Don’t be a downer. Times might be hard in the near future, but the last thing this world needs is a bunch of sour folks who are weighed down with fear and crushing burdens. Spread joy, and light up whatever corner you are at. Avoid partisan political bickering.
So, what do you think? What are some other practical ways we can prepare for the difficult times that we are facing? I’d love to hear from you and know what you think. Leave comments below, or follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Together, I think we can exercise some wisdom, and help mitigate the potential negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak.