Every event has intended and unintended consequences. More often, it’s a mixture of both.
Some consequences are decidedly bad, and others are surprisingly good. Many remain unknown for years to come.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the bad is painfully apparent. The unknown is portentous. And the good is worth noting to boost our morale, if only briefly, and to add an uplifting contrast to what otherwise has been weeks of unrelenting gloom.
I offer the following observations of the unintended “good” with compassion for all of those who are suffering now. Many among us have lost loved ones as well as their jobs. Others are ill or anxious about getting sick. Still, more are working overtime on the front lines.
Let’s think of them as we turn our attention to the good that’s emerged during the pandemic.
Caring, Connection, and Collaboration: These three “C’s” of human interaction have rarely been higher – save for World War II or national tragedies such as 9/11. The Wall Street Journal ran a stunning article recently about Scientists to Stop COVID-19, a behind-the-scenes consortium of billionaires and top-notch scientists, including a Nobel Prize winner who said he was the least qualified of the group. The group has been working feverishly to try to save the world from the pandemic, bringing tremendous financial and intellectual resources to the gargantuan task. They reportedly have made progress on sorting out the most promising treatments and strategies for defeating COVID-19. They’re now researching the best ways to re-open the economy. Reading about the shared goodwill of the group raised my spirits for hours. People working together with compassion (another C) for others can accomplish amazing things.
Mother Nature: Planet earth is thriving during our global lockdown. Dolphins swim in the clear waters of the Venice canals in Italy. The skies above New York are an unpolluted blue. Black bears freely frolic in Yosemite National Park, where 400 bears have been hit by cars since 1995, according to Beth Pratt, National Wildlife Federation’s regional executive director for California. Surely, flora, and fauna soil and water are thanking us for our collective retreat. Maybe, they’ll continue to thrive a bit longer at our expense. And perhaps when we get back to business, we’ll tread a little more lightly on the earth.
Illicit Drug Supply Chains Get Disrupted: While Wuhan, China, is now famous for COVID-19, BC (before COVID-19), it was known as an industrial hub and a primary supplier of the chemicals needed to make fentanyl and other opioids, according to the Los Angeles Times. Lockdowns in Wuhan disrupted the chemical supply back in January. The flow of drugs into the U.S. from Mexico also has been hampered thanks to the pandemic. Supply and demand is a complicated relationship. Drug users are likely paying more for their high while supplies stall or, worse, going through life-endangering withdrawals without access to their usual drugs. We can still hope, though, that the hiccup in the supply chain shifts the drug trade downward.
A lovely but cynical friend of mine believes that when COVID-19 subsides, we’ll return to our selfish, polluting, mercenary ways.
I’m not so sure. People change. Cultures adapt, and some trends, for better and for worse, are long-lasting. We still go through security checkpoints at airports because of 9/11, and it’s likely wearing masks will be fashionable for a while.
Why not dream that the “better angels of our nature” will lift humanity to higher heights long after the pandemic recedes
On My Mind
British World War II Veteran Captain Thomas Moore decided to do his part during the pandemic. His quest? To raise money for the country’s National Health Service charities by attempting to walk 100 laps around his garden in Eastern England with the aid of a walker before he turned 100 years old. An inspired British nation contributed nearly $38 million to his cause. Moore successfully completed his quest and when he turned 100 years old on April 30th he received more than 100,000 birthday cards, including one from the Queen. Keep Calm and Carry On. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-52472132
The stories we tell ourselves about the future and the past affect how we live in the present. Watch the following video from poet Tomos Roberts and consider what story you want to tell yourself about post-pandemic life.