I think the one thing the world really needs is another commentary on the way the coronavirus is changing our lives.
You may not agree, so I dare you to continue reading to see if I come up with something clever or insightful about the current crisis. These really are interesting times and I fear we are just getting started.
Last week health officials suggest we avoid crowds. Professional and college sports leagues canceled their seasons. Churches suspended services.
You can roll a bowling ball across St. Peter’s Square in Rome and not hit a single pilgrim. The basilica is just as empty.
This week in Chicago, where I live, all the bars and restaurants are shuttered. Schools are closed and parents are trying to figure out how to work and watch kids at the same time.
By next week we may all be hunkered in our basements, fearful that the next knock on the door will be a federal health soldier asking for a blood sample.
Perhaps it won’t get that extreme. But I’ve already seen enough of the human reaction to a pandemic to have confidence that things will be much crazier.
Let me share a few observations.
- What is the single thing that Americans are most afraid of having to live without? TOILET PAPER. People are buying TP as fast as trucks can restock stores. People are hoarding the stuff and I think some families must have enough to last for years.
- People are stocking up on bottled water, medicine, favorite foods, pet food, hand sanitizer, and beer.
- There is always some greedy jerk who tries to make an extra buck during a crisis. A couple guys made the news last night when the police found they had bought up thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer and were selling it for outrageous prices to fearful neighbors. A judge decided they should give all their inventory to charities.
- My local newspaper (a major metropolitan daily) offered a long feature article on how to occupy oneself if restricted to home. In other words, if you can’t go to work, school or the mall, what on earth could you do? Frankly, anyone who can’t figure out how to occupy themselves has greater issues than coronavirus. If you have a cheap computer with an internet connection you can for very little money access virtually every movie, television program, and book ever produced in the history of mankind. You can also pick up a physical book. Other things you can do include spending time with the other people you live with, either roommates or family. If you live alone you can talk to people on the phone.
- Life goes on despite the lack of sports to watch or in which to participate. This is a reminder that sports are a pastime. That is, they are something people do to pass the time, not improve the world.
- As a Catholic, if I am quarantined I will have extra time to meditate and pray. Prayer is a good thing to do in a pandemic. It might do me good to re-read the Bible, a book that has inspiration, history, drama, romance, and poetry.
- I’ve learned two new definitions and my first instinct regarding the meaning of each was incorrect.
- Flatten curve. I thought this would have something to do with building roads or railways. Turns out is related to the reduction of the curve on a chart of increasing numbers of coronavirus cases.
- Social distancing. I figured this was a short description of the way I feel around the right and famous; I sense the social distance between them and moi. But it refers to keeping a distance of a few feet from other people so you don’t get their germs.
- Everyone is encouraged to be thorough in the washing of hands. A tip for Catholics or other open to Catholic ways; if you pray a Hail Mary slowly and with reverence, it takes just the amount of time required to do a solid washing of the hands.
Much of the “normal” world I experience is closed. Many of the things I would normally do are unavailable. But God is always available. I just need to start the conversation.