Opinion: Pandemic panic sets in

April 5, 2020

 

During these times of fear and doom, I felt called to share perspective on this situation. Apart from my friends and community, I have been completely cut off from television and the internet for the past 90 days, on a journey with other men called Exodus 90.  This isolation has been a great gift in my experience, primarily in that I am observing so much fear being constantly bombarded from our media and our government leaders, and I have been blessed with this influence being significantly minimized on my outlook.  

 

I am not going to quote all kinds of facts and figures, our media has certainly given us a deluge of  facts and figures. What I will merely point out is that millions of people die from influenza and other viruses every year. In terms of overall fatalities from flu and cold, this year is average to above average in terms of numbers. I do not find this perspective anywhere in our media. Why? Because sensational sells newspapers, and every reporter is tripping over himself to get market share. On top of that, every politician is scrambling to make a name for themselves trying to show how capably they have handled this crisis. 

 

Are people sick and dying?  Unquestionably and tragically. Is that any different from any other time in our history? Not significantly. What is different this time, is that this is evolving into a historic event. While people are looking around them, wondering who is going to infect them, our government is exercising newly established power and shifting the entire paradigm of our country. The world that your children and their children grow up into will be dramatically different than the one we grew up in. People are afraid, and in that fear our government bureaucracy is making changes to the very foundations of this country. 

 

The first thing that should concern us all is the fundamental shift in how our younger people are going to be viewing government. Historically, government was viewed with a certain level of distrust and seen as a necessary evil. We are now in the midst of a massive shift away from that. As younger millennials and generation z begin receiving their stimulus checks and increased unemployment checks, they will begin to view government as a savior. Coupled with that, our religious services have been virtually outlawed, and that will further remove peoples faith in our Creator and advance the reliance on government in the coming generations. 

 

Another huge observation is how people are going to view the outside world and others. Fear begets fear. When you are looking at others as a source of contagion, how long until we distrust our neighbors? How will that impact our community life? Social distancing means a complete lack of nuance and body language in how we interact with each other. Voice chat, video chat, conference calls, social media, all of them are a pale shadow of face to face interactions. What type of transformation will occur due to this changed communication paradigm? Our children, already seriously influenced by social media, will be forever altered by these times. 

 

Economically, these are some of the most momentous times in human history. A close friend of mine told me that he informed his children, "this is your 9/11". I would assert that this is something far more impactful than even that horrific day. Our economy was already treading on unsteady ground, (many experts assert that we were already in a recession) and this situation has created something unique and new in terms of the world economy. Never before has a government been able to print money in such vast quantities and pour it into the financial and business sectors. The debt repercussions are completely mind boggling, and even the experts have no real idea of the implications inherent in such a seismic shift away from market economics and the modern economic model. 

 

In conclusion, I would just like to express my gratitude to the Almighty. In these trying times, I am in exactly the place where I need to be. Portland is a strong, vibrant, generous community, full of intelligent, creative and talented people. During the next few years, our community will be faced with certain obstacles. They will challenge our families and community in ways that we are not even aware of yet. Friends, family, and neighbors will be laid off, lose significant  income, and maybe even lose their homes. In the midst of this, we have our community. We have plenty to live fruitful joyful lives, even if our nations economy turns upside down. We are going to be called to share extensively of our time, talent, and treasure, but rest assured, we have more than enough if we work together to lift each other up. There may be changes, some good and some bad. Maybe in the midst of this, God will help us to disconnect from our idols that we have worshipped, and get back to the things that are truly important. 

 

The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of The Portland Beacon, or its management.

 

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