A few thoughts on the current crisis:
BEFORE THIS pandemic, I was the proverbial hamster on the wheel. Monday - work late on the paper. Tuesday - kids’ Mary Persons’ soccer games. Wednesday - AWANA at church. Thursday - T-ball practice for the young ‘un. Friday - kids’ Mary Persons’ soccer games. Saturday - collapse. Sunday - church, tennis and soccer. Now? Well we’re still working at the Reporter. We hope you consider us essential. We all have our own office space, and some Lysol leftover from our Coronavirus Survival Kits. But after that there’s plenty of what life coaches call “margin”. That is more time with unscheduled activities to spend time with family and loved ones—or just take a nap. And you know, I kind of enjoy it. And I’ve noticed a few others seem to as well.
AT THE SAME, it’s hard for small business owners to enjoy this for long. There was a post going around Facebook about a girl named Karen who could infect so many other people with the virus if she didn’t stay home. The point was nobody should leave their homes. Ever the contrarian, I wrote my own story about Karen. It goes like this: Karen has spent 10 years chasing her dream and working very very hard to build a small business with 6 employees. Karen has $50,000 in expenses every month. She averages $51,000 in revenue every month. Karen needs 5 more years for her business to pay off a bank loan and start making money and putting away for kids’ college and retirement. The government makes Karen shutdown due to a virus. Many who get the virus don’t know it. Others get it bad and are hospitalized. Less than 1 percent die, as with other viruses. When she shuts down, Karen has no revenue. Karen has to lay off employees. She’s stuck with debts she can’t pay. And now 7 people in your town can’t pay their bills. Seven landlords and banks don’t get repaid. There are 70 Karens in your town, so the livelihoods of 490 people are destroyed. If you want to shut it all down, fine. Just realize you’re destroying your own economy.
President Trump has picked up this theme that we can’t let the “cure” be worse than the disease. That’s brought moaning and wailing from people panicking about this virus who want us to stay shutdown indefinitely. They say we’re choosing money over people’s lives. That’s a false dichotomy. If we stay in shutdown, we will crash the economy and people will die as a result — whether from suicide and despair or a loss of income and ability to pay for medical care. The longer this goes on, the more convinced I am that we overreacted. Even if I get the virus, I would say this. People’s livelihoods are at stake, their ability to feed their families. Thank God we have a president and a governor willing to recognize this. Gov. Brian Kemp has also taken heat for not “shutting it all down”. This is insane. You don’t strip American citizens of the most basic right of all, the ability to provide for their families, without a widespread, life-threatening and imminent threat. We do not have such a threat. I hope we open back up soon.
MONROE COUNTY and the city of Forsyth issued emergency declarations on Monday. But as Mayor Eric Wilson noted, most locals have stayed at home and worked to prevent contagious situations. That’s allowed local governments to make our curfew voluntary rather than mandatory. That’s good. As Americans, even in emergencies, we should always be wary of government imposing draconian rules on citizens. Monroe County is a special place. It’s good to see neighbors rallying to make masks for health care workers. It’s good to see our schools providing meals for needy students (see page 1C). It’s good to see churches checking on their quarantined widows. When people govern themselves well, the government doesn’t have to do so much governing.
THE CURRENT panic brings to mind the biblical account of the Israelites’ approach to the Promised Land in Numbers 13-14. Moses sent 12 scouts to check out the land. When they returned, 10 of them, the majority, said that while the land was beautiful and had great crops, there were giants there too. They concluded there was no way the puny Israelites could take the land. But two brave scouts, Joshua and Caleb, encouraged the people, noting that God had promised they could take it.
“But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. ‘Let’s go at once to take the land,’ he said. ‘We can certainly conquer it!’”
Nevertheless, the negative Nathans told all the people that the giants would devour them. What happened next sounds like us.
“Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night.”
The fearful people plotted to stone the optimistic spies, to remove Moses as leader and hoped instead to go back into slavery in Egypt.
God was unhappy with the people’s fear and unbelief, and He would’ve destroyed them if Moses hadn’t talked Him out of it.
Much of modern culture has aimed to remove God and faith from our daily lives. God uses experiences like the current pandemic to bring us back to Him. He loves us, and He knows we don’t do well without Him. I hope we are listening.