I was not alive in 1938 when Orson Welles made his radio bulletin describing a “huge, flaming object” crashing onto a farmers field outside Grovers Mill, New Jersey. Many listeners believed the Martian invasion was true. It was enough to scare the devil out of many folks, and a lot of good folks were taken in. Hysteria ensued and people got all bent out of shape, some even barricaded themselves in their homes.
It is said that Welles did not intend to throw a genuine scare into his listeners. He even had a disclaimer at the top of the show which explained that what followed would be a dramatization, and not a true story at all.
So what similarity is there between the fictional “The War of the Worlds” broadcast and the real and present danger of Corona virus? I have already said the story told by Welles was not true. They were not being invaded. But if they had been, what should have been the response? I say hysteria would be appropriate, right! I mean if I were told of alien, oily skinned, lipless creatures dripping with saliva suddenly incinerating Americans with a heat ray, I’d freak out. I’d probably run get my gun and head to the grocery store. And after this Covid experience, I’d grab some toilet paper first, then get my groceries and go hunker down. But in fact the Covid 19 epidemic is not a Martian invasion, it is a long way from it. However more and more I am becoming convinced the two events have their similarities. The response in both cases was overdone, but here I suggest the proportional response was more justified in the case of the radio show than our governments response to the real epidemic of Covid 19.
The danger we are told is that hundreds of thousands of our citizens will die if we don’t do what we are doing. That “we must slow the curve and protect our system from being overwhelmed and that our response is critical to the slowing of the curve. They say, “Exponential deaths will occur if we don’t do this together.” I understand the math. But I have many questions, like, have we actually seen all the numbers? Have our officials seen them? This is a complicated endeavor and there are many avenues of thought.
I see that they are building hospitals, putting up tents and triage units to deal with the demand that will eventually overwhelm the system. I know they have bean counters that deal with numbers, and I’m not so good at math. But so far the shelters are empty, the hospital ships in the ports are hardly used. Nobody seems to want to question the policy except to make Trump look bad, and when a wise question is asked I have heard both reasons and excuses.
I believe, and I know I will be criticized for this. Even the medical professionals in my own family will likely misconstrue my intentions; but I do not think we are being given enough information to make sound judgments. Of course a lock down is the safest course for us to stay alive. Here at home I cannot be overrun by a drunk or shot by a gang banger, or catch the flu, or the virus. But I took the time to look at the State of New York’s statistics on the conventional flue. As soon as they went into lock_down the cases of common flu declined dramatically. Ironically, the cases of Covid 19 increased. Do you see a relationship here?
Do we know how many people historically die of the common flu each day in New York? How many die each day of anything? Are they telling us this information? NO! Is it conspiratorial for me to wonder what number of those who died are confirmed Covid 19 deaths? Are they lumping in deaths of people with heart conditions, patients with cancer or diabetes, ones who would normally die if they had contracted the common flue? The question is did they die “of it” or “with it?” This is an important distinction and we are not being told which it is. I suspect we are moving people from one column to another, or maybe not.
My fundamental objection and heart felt concern is that we have received little validation from governments and scientists around the world that shutting down economies like they have will help avoid deaths. I’m not terribly concerned about a few horrible nights with a high fever. I personally do not see the correlation or the causation for a complete shut down. What have they said that proves the theory that shutting down everything is helpful? If we look at other countries we do not see one policy working better than another. In fact our policy seems to be, “Something must be done, and we are going to do it!” At first I agreed that “something must be done,” and trying everything seemed to be the answer. But what is happening now is that they seem to be throwing everything at it but also wrecking everything in its path.
“Forgive me Mr. President, I believe you are doing your best.” Yet, you are not telling us to repent and turn back to God. I think you are giving us your heart, and that’s a good thing, but listen up!
This is a tragedy, I know this. But I also know our response needs to be one of proportion. The President has said this very thing, but I’m not sure he is following his own advise. As for me, I say, “I will do everything I can to protect you as you should do everything to protect me.” This is biblical. But we must also justify the scale of the response. It is not unreasonable to take care of our personal hygiene and consider others in our actions. In fact before this crisis I washed my hands and when possible I opened public doors with my sleeve or a napkin, it was sensible. Handles are nasty! Are all Americans civilized? I suspect not! This is why some policies are authoritarian, I get it. Maybe we can maintain a portion of societal compliance, but our future is bleak if viruses like this become the norm. Do you think the average Bronx dropout or the radical teenage socialist will change their ways when this is all over? Remember a large portion of adolescents eat their own boogers! It’s a fallen world!
So what is happening? Almost every area of our lives is been rocked and affected by these mass lock-downs. The loss to our economy and our freedoms are massive. The government is preventing average people from earning a living (can you believe this?) In fact they are destroying our hopes and dreams, crushing our businesses, even keeping people from paying taxes because half the businesses have closed up shop. I have a friend in the party rental business, guess how many parties and weddings will happen this summer? He would normally do seven figures of income and employ many. The taxes that make government run are being withheld, our institutions are even starving themselves, but I’ll bet none in government will miss a paycheck! Deficits are increasing to unsustainable levels, and we are not being told how all this is going to be paid for. These are gigantic economic problems are being stored up for the future. If this nonsense of scale continues the middle and lower classes will not have the slightest chance of regaining our freedoms or our standard of living. Of course nothing will change for the ultra rich. Jeff Bezos will not miss a hundred billion dollars if all falls apart, he’s still have a few measly billion dollars left, but he is likely hedged anyway.
In the title of this post I suggest that we are not being invaded by Martians nor is this 1918 when the last huge pandemic took place amd multiple millions of people died. If it was like that, then these measures might be appropriate. A famous British journalist tells the story of a doctor who sees his patient with chicken pox and he says to him, “the only possible way to to deal with this is to cut off your left leg. This is a new treatment,” he goes on, “the treatment was developed in China and is being used around the world. And we believe it is your only hope.” So they cut off his leg and he recovers from the chicken pox; just as he would have had they done nothing or something different. In this case and ours, in the end all he has to deal with is one missing leg. This is the principal in which all countries are working today. I believe it is quite likely that this virus will eventually just go away or die down with much effort. Despite all our authoritarian efforts a natural immunity or vaccine will likely end it. Yes, a vaccine could eradicate it but that is a long time away; what is our other option?
So tell me please, I can take it, I may even need to know. Tell me with certainty that the information we have says shutting down everything and keeping people in lock-down is helping more that it is hurting, I mean is it really keeping people from dying? I’m not asking about our medical efforts, I know these help. Is all the economic pain saving lives? Is there one policy working consistently around the world that is saving lives? I ask because the stay at home policies in some nations differ widely from ours, and they are experiencing similar medical results. Hong Kong for example kept their businesses open they peaked and headed down slope, but it did not last. So now they are tightening again because the trend reversed, but still most business still remain open, what does this say about our policies? I’d much rather be in St Louis than Hong Kong, maybe being partly open would make sense? I ask why have we followed the tactics of China and not Hong Kong, or Sweden, or Japan, or Brazil? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should do nothing or that we are doing everything wrong. What I’m asking, if you remember, is, “shouldn’t our response be proportional?” I recognize it will take remarkable persistence to control the Coronavirus, maybe even a herculean effort. But we can do it! We can elbow bump, wear masks, use hand sanitizer, and wash our hands after every contact, we have to do this after every trip to the grocery store, liqueur store, or dispensary (Don’t get me started on what’s essential). Older people, those at risk, and those who worry a lot can stay in their homes with our blessing. Even idiots could be fined or thrown in jail if they pose a threat. (This is already the rule in many cities) And business owners could keep their businesses open, people could work in scrubbed and safe environments. If a business is sloppy sue them or let the Twitter trolls #bash them, isn’t that the American way? Remember, I’m debating our response and our good intentions. I offer this mostly as a secular opinion, and offer that our policies look more like we are guessing than thinking, hoping things will stick or making sure the other side does not come up with the next great idea first. If we continue beating the dead horse I believe our response could be catastrophic. Now look at the State of Montana, this is at the heart of my argument, NY has its own issues. We have 250 cases and 5 deaths, does this justify the full extent of our shelter at home policy? For goodness sake we now have contact with way more people at Costco than we ever did before the virus. Am I willing to take the risk to listen to cello music in an outdoor setting with others separated by a reasonable distance. Heck yes! A few risks make sense to me.
Finally, I know I would be exposing myself to danger if things loosen up, and they must. I understand I will not have the satisfaction of saying I was right; I play along well. Writing this has been more like a developmental exercise of my prefrontal cortex, than a hope that anybody will agree with me. It is predictable that political spin and socially acceptable conventions will shortly declare I am wrong in my thinking, I’m prepared. Besides the savage rascal in me makes my voice small, nobody will listen who counts, and half of you think I’m nuts already. So after all this, say’s the rogue spoiler, me, “We all still know the ending.” Some of our loved ones or friends will lose their lives, our economy will be crushed, government will implement more restrictions on our freedoms, the rich will get richer, and our politicians will take credit or blame the other side for everything. I kinda wish we were being invaded by Martians, at least then we would fear a real enemy.
P.S. The above is not the religious solution. I wrote this wrapped in provocative heathen rhetoric. I’m absolutely sure if our nation would come to faith in Jesus, humble itself and pray, asking God for relief He would grant it. Problem solved!