“Bad news on the doorstep, I couldn’t take one more step.” That line from Don McLean’s 1972 smash hit, American Pie, sums up the current world condition quite well.
Today, there is such an abundance of bad news—corona virus, stock market meltdown, layoffs, quarantines, lockdowns, threats of martial law, etc., that anyone could be forgiven if it seemed that another step was impossible. Yet, life goes on, in spite of everything which appears to be destroying our accustomed and familiar way of life.
How do we go on, then? What changes will we need to make or be made for us? How will we adapt to those changes? What will be different in the future? These are all valid questions for which answers are needed and which everyone must seriously consider. There are a lot of things which we don’t know and can not answer, but there are some which require nothing more than common sense to understand.
1. You are in control of yourself and the way you respond to the situation around you. Maintain that.
2. Don’t panic or give into the palpable fear. Keep a level head about you. Stay calm. This alone will allow you to maintain some semblance of normality in your day-to-day living.
3. Don’t believe everything you read or hear, especially about the corona virus. There are so many conflicting stories, reports, “expert” opinions, and official declarations readily available that it is difficult to determine what is true and what is false. Use your own good judgment about what is best for you. Corona may be an existential threat. It may be much ado about nothing. Or somewhere in between, which I suspect, but I do not know where to draw a conclusion.
4. It is not the end of the world, especially as concerns the stock market and the economy. Humanity has experienced financial collapses like this before and survived. Somehow, someway, we will work our way through the current one as well and another generation will be born to carry on.
5. Keep a positive attitude. While the situation may seem disastrous (and disaster is likely to happen), it is important that we maintain a positive outlook about the future. Depression, anxiety, and fear will drag you down. Don’t allow your circumstances to get the best of you. Remember, you are in control of yourself and the way you respond to your situation.
With all that said, it is important that we face some truth honestly. Our world has drastically changed within the last few months and, in spite of all the talk about a return to “normalcy” once the Covid-19 pandemic subsides, it is quite sure that many things we took for granted yesterday will not be in place tomorrow. Things will be different, some dramatically, some less so, but the equation has had another factor introduced into it and the implications of that are still to be seen and worked out.
Get used to the idea that the old system we are familiar with is being dismantled and another one will be erected in its place. There will be major changes along the way, both positive and negative. One positive change we can look forward to is the willingness to rely more on ourselves and our families, neighbors, friends, our faith, and our local community. If this actually happens (I believe it will), we will learn to depend less on distant, authoritarian governments, large faceless corporations, and bureaucratic institutions to provide for what we need in our daily lives. We will also learn what is really important and what is not.
All of us are going to participate in this, whether we like it or not. We have the opportunity to assist in shaping the economy and society which will rise out of the carnage and destruction happening around us. Everyone can participate in bringing this about, wherever we are, by changing our attitude from “Somebody ought to do something!” to one of “What can I do to help?” Look around you. There is plenty to do. Find a place where you can make a difference and get to it. Start close to home, branch out from there.
A better world awaits.