In my measly 55 years of existence, things have always been somewhat predictable. Most people have an idea of how their lives will turn out, depending on the choices they make. Of course, there are always things that unexpectedly arise that may alter one’s course. A drop in the stock market, a death in the family, or the loss of a job are sometimes tragic hurdles we have to overcome. On a more positive note, a winning lottery ticket, a new child, or beating an addiction may propel one’s life forward. For the most part, people’s personal lives maintain a certain equilibrium, with a few blips, either up or down.
However, in my measly 55 years of existence, I have never experienced a level of unpredictability as we all are now. The last time an event had this big of an impact on the entire world was World War II, which affected my grandparents, but was before my time. Before that, it was the Great Depression.
The first thing we can’t predict is how many people will succumb to this horrible virus. I see plenty of guessing, and charts, and expert opinions, but in truth, only time will tell. I feel sorry for the families of those who’ve lost friends and family. I haven’t personally lost anyone to the virus so far, and I suppose in some ways, I feel like it’s something that is happening to other people. I don’t mean it a callous way, and I’m anxious about hearing someone I care about has contracted it. I live alone, and haven’t come face-to-face with another person for a couple of weeks now, so I feel pretty safe. Like a war though, the number of casualties should be our number one concern.
Think of all the other things that may change. Will people still interact the same when we come out of this? I imagine there will be a period of time as the number of cases of the virus dwindle, we'll still be wearing masks, and keeping our distance from each other. Maybe shaking hands will be replaced by something else, like the Thai “wai”, or the Japanese bow.
Will our economy heal quickly, or will recovery be so slow, people and the government run out of money? Will Social Security, or my military pension survive? We’re really lucky our economy was doing as well as it was before all this started. Will masses of our population be poverty stricken, or will government stimulus opportunities, and our strong wills get us through this? At least we know the Kennedy Center will be alright.
Major changes are already happening overseas. Will this be the end of the European Union? England has already pulled out, and now Italy is largely in favor of leaving. As the EU, they had an economy to rival China. Individually, how strong will our European allies be? Speaking of China, even though they started all this, they seem to be doing pretty well, while the rest of the world is struggling to hang on. They’re making a fortune selling medical gear. How ironic is that? Maybe we’ll all be speaking Mandarin before it’s over.
Will Hollywood still matter to any of us? It seems people are finally coming around to the understanding our Hollywood heroes often times have very flawed logic. Will we ever trust the media again? What used to be journalism is now just shilling for whatever side of the political spectrum the organization's corporate sponsorship falls.
Will there be any benefits to the environment from all this? I’ve seen stories about cleaner water, beaches, and air. Of course, it doesn’t help in Chiang Mai, where I live, because people are still purposefully setting fire to rice fields, making us the number one city in the world for air pollution. Maybe in other parts of the world though, there will be some benefits to having all the cars off the roads and planes out of the sky for a while.
I’m sure there are thousands more aspects of our lives that could be potentially impacted by the effects of this global pandemic.
I believe though, if we rise above the pettiness, and treat each other with compassion – if employers do the right thing for furloughed employees, and we get people back to work as soon as possible, we can get through this. We might even come out on the other side better people than we are now.
In the meantime, stay safe! Take care of each other! Most importantly, wash your hands!