The world does not know what to do about the Coronavirus.
“Shelly” a Millennial thinker from San Diego, California, writes this about the Opening America dilemma facing President Trump and many other leaders:
“Opening America up again is certainly a risky political move. Open too late and the economic consequences will be dire. Open too early and ICU’s get overwhelmed, with dire economic consequences anyway. It is a very delicate balancing act that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. All I can do is pray that President Trump will be guided by God and science to do what is best.”
It doesn’t hurt to look to the past for inspiration about what to do in the present.
On April 21st, 1836 ,the Texas army lead by Sam Houston engaged and defeated the Mexican army to win independence for Texas in a battle that lasted 18 minutess. Quick decisive victories can reduce all the terrible costs of war. They are the hallmark of a leader who cares about people. Houston’s own definition of leadership is consistent with what he achieved that day: “A leader is someone who helps improve the lives of other people or improve the system they live under.”
In order for leaders now to achieve that goal, I believe we have to change the way that we think about the disease which has turned today’s human world upside down.
I do not like calling what is happening a war. It is a health crisis. It is a crisis for us because large numbers of people are dying and the possibility of these numbers increasing terrifies people. In seeking safety because of this fear, people are willingly destroying the economic social order by making social interaction illegal.
But since frightened people are using the language of war, I want to ask some questions.
First, who are the real heroes?
For me heroes are those who contribute to the cause of seeking victory unselfishly. What will victory look like and what actions will get us there?
The economic impact of lock-downs already seems worse than anything since the Great Depression. As a 62 year old I would rather take my chances with the Coronavirus and my God-given immune system than the risk of an economic catastrophe worse than the Great Depression during my final years on earth.
Is it any sort of victory if we further destroy the economy in order to avoid a disease which primarily kills many sick elderly people? Would that be good for people in any age group, including the elderly themselves? Current Texas Lieutenant-Governor Dan Patrick does not think so. On March 23rd he told interviewer Tucker Carlson, that he was willing to risk his own life to avoid an economic shutdown. On April 7, he announced a task force to look at reopening the Texas economy.
I would like to call Dan Patrick a Herd Immunity Hero.
To me his example looks like heroic leadership. What Sam Houston honoured when he said, “Do right and risk the consequences.”
I don’t trust the modern nanny state to give me a good life but real freedom can.
Pharmacology might give the world a vaccine next year. Any earlier would be a miracle.
As “Shelly” so wisely suggests, we must respect both God and science but perhaps all we can do is pray.
Geoff Fox, 10 a.m., 21st April (San Diego time), from Down Under