It’s ironic, but with only a little information about a new virus, it’s easy to become zealously intolerant of those who see the risks differently. Find the solution in this week’s edition of “Isn’t That Ironic?”.
Last week I asked if this pandemic was bringing out the best or the worst in you. The answer might be—both. We have witnessed both the best and the worst around the world. Millions of people have selflessly devoted themselves to helping others, in small ways and in big ways. It’s been inspiring to see—a testament to the beauty of our human spirit. But we have also seen some typical human weaknesses like intolerance.
All of us have struggled to understand what the best response might be to this new challenge. The leaders of nations, both political leaders and medical leaders, have presented a variety of understandings and misunderstandings, prescriptions and mis-prescriptions, hands-off and hands-strangling responses to the crisis.
Which nation responded most wisely? Was it New Zealand, as some in the mainstream media say, that shut down its economy even before many cases showed up? Was it China, where the virus first emerged and was covered up and lied about? Was it Taiwan, which reacted the quickest and did not shut down its entire economy? Was it Canada, where almost the whole country has come to a standstill—even in provinces with almost no cases—while flights from China continued? Was it Sweden, where high-risk seniors homes where shut-in but children continued with school and their parents continued with work? Only time will tell. It might take several years for the consequences of all these various governmental responses to work themselves out. As an economist, I can assure you that there will be consequences to printing trillions of dollars. These consequences are as unstoppable as the virus, although they take longer to work themselves out.
Everything happens through time in this material world. We often forget this obvious truth and try to draw conclusions too quickly—predicting the final score while the game is still on. All of us fall into this error. With a tiny bit of information, we jump to the conclusion that we are all-knowing. With the conviction of a religious zealot, we quickly condemn the actions of anyone who sees things differently than we do—anyone who assesses the risks differently than we do.
You must have seen some of the many examples on social media and the news media. People ridiculed and condemned for the heinous crime of a handshake, or a hug, or going for a walk in the park. Innocuous acts that help others or maintain our own sanity are now criminal acts and receive massive fines or jail time: the pastor who kept his soup kitchen going for homeless street people, the mother who let her five-year-old daughter play on a swing set, a lone surfboarder chased down by a police speedboat, the church that held “drive-in” services. All fined and threatened with jail.
The intolerance of individuals and the tyrannical control of the state are both driven by fear. A fear that, itself, seems more dangerous than the virus.
If we can, instead, amplify the love that leads to tolerance of others, even those others who assess the virus risks differently than we do, then perhaps we can pull a great blessing from this great tragedy. Wouldn’t that be ironic!
Every person deserves our love, respect, and tolerance because every person is sacred, even the ones whose behavior doesn’t fit with what we think is appropriate during “Coronatime”.
God Bless You!
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