Globalization has increased trade in the world immensely in the last couple of decades. Many countries now are involved in the supply chain, such as cars, that make them more affordable, worldwide, to consumers. But global economic trade facilitates the spreading of pandemic disease that has no geographic boundaries when world travel is so prevalent.
We are currently facing a crisis of extreme proportion never before experienced in our lives. What was most surprising is that the public was kept in the dark until it was too late to prepare ourselves for the most unpleasant consequences that a virulent virus brings with it. President Trump’s wish that the virus would pass over us and, we would be miraculously saved, though indeed not quite the same, has a similar ring to it as President Xi and the Chinese Communist Party reprimanding Dr. Li Wenliang for his warning about the emerging threat of the coronavirus. The leaders in China and America did not want to admit the inherent danger of a deadly virus–delaying the immediate treatment of the problem–causing untoward consequences.
Now that it is clear that it is here it might be much harder for us to face than Asian countries that have a collectivist, as opposed to an individual value system, where the family, and not the individual, is primary. Because Asians are not as likely to challenge authority as Americans, the Chinese leaders, once they stopped denying the existence of the coronavirus, were able to enforce a complete shutdown. Strict adherence to this policy by the Chinese people kept the numbers and spread of the disease in abeyance. The objective in controlling the spread of the disease is to get a flat curve where there are not too many cases reported on a daily basis. The medical experts are saying that the way to achieve this is to minimize contact with other people in what has been called social distancing or minimizing social contact to just family members. These social restraints have been put in place to contain a virus that might otherwise grow exponentially and create a shortage of medical supplies essential for treatment and care of the sick.
Because the virus is more likely to thrive in places where there is a greater density of people, the big cities, such as Los Angeles and New York City, where many of us find most desirable to reside, have reported the greatest incidence of the virus. Like China, almost all work and leisure areas have been closed. When people go food shopping, they are told to stay six feet apart while standing on line. Older people are much more vulnerable to the illness regarding mortality rates than younger people and, so the latter, may not follow the guidelines as strictly as their parents or grandparents. If young people become infected by the virus, they may be either asymptomatic completely or free of symptoms for 5 to 10 days during which time they can come in contact with a parent or older relative that may cause serious illness and possibly death to this elder.
No one really knows how long this will last. The unpredictability of the duration of this virus increases our anxiety and is very much reflected in the stock market where a huge amount of money and resources has been lost. The hope is that we, as a people, can adjust to whatever losses we experience, and follow the advice of medical experts by changing our life style. The government has taken certain monetary and fiscal steps to ease the public pain. However, the fact that there has been a vast shutdown of any type of travel and commerce goes beyond any palliative measures pushed by our leaders.
Hopefully, the new life styles imposed on us in conjunction with concomitant losses will not result in anger and irrational behavior. In LA, I am told gun shops have sold out with customers afraid that their stores will be ransacked. Unfortunately, unruly mob behavior will only exacerbate the problem by increasing the spreading of the virus. This will counteract the good intentions of the rest of us and result in further turmoil.
There is a bright spot to all of this: Now we will have time to contact through phone or the Internet many forgotten friends and acquaintances from the past. Besides the Internet has allowed schools that are closed to supply Chrome computers to their students. Moreover, as a psychologist, I am able to see clients online by accessing Skype. Many employees are working from their home full time, in areas like the big cities mentioned above, that have gone Dark. Even though we need to socially distance, we can communicate through the many online platforms accessible that are for free. Imagine the losses that would have been sustained, not so long ago, when the Internet did not exist.
The Book of Genesis, from the Bible, talked about how after the flood, the people wanted to build a Tower that would be high enough to avoid any future floods with the goal of reaching the Heavens. God objected to this pompous act of humans resulting in their dispersion over the earth and the formation of many languages. I view the Internet, not as a vertical structure aimed at the Heavens, but rather as a horizontal structure that has spread itself throughout the entire globe. Although we are a people with many languages, the Internet manages to unite us and bring us closer to one another by sharing both our customs and culture.
To conclude, there are always heroes to be recognized in every crisis. The workers at pharmacies, grocery stores and at gas stations are on the firing line as are our medical personnel. They are still reporting to work as their jobs are a sine qua non for the maintenance and continuance of our lives. I have noticed that the workers in grocery stores are by and large younger people and, certainly, that makes sense. This, however, may not be true of some of our medical professionals that still are working. It would make sense, if at all feasible, to give older professionals time off from what could be for them, a most dangerous and precarious environment. My bet is many doctors and nurses still would choose to continue with their work rather than to withdraw. Hats off to them.