Sam Smith – Lots of people, including the president, are making analogies between what is happening now and a big war. But when you think about it a little deeper it becomes clear that this is bigger than a war. Consider that we already have lost more than half as many people as we did in the Vietnam War.
And unlike wars, we were stunningly unprepared for it. As I noted the other day our public health budget is 2% of our military expenses and politicians, the media and citizens don’t even talk much about it until it becomes unavoidable news. Further, this virus has done things that even going to war has avoided in the past such as slicing our direct contact with businesses, education, churches, arts, friends and sports.
There is another issue that we have avoided so far: what if this virus becomes a permanent part of our lives? How does that change what being human is all about? Back in March, Time Magazine ran an interview with Dr. Bruce Aylward who has almost 30 years experience in fighting polio, Ebola and other diseases, and now is one of the world’s top officials in charge of fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s what he said on this subject:
What’s going to happen? Is this going to disappear completely? Are we going to get into a period of cyclical waves? Or are we going to end up with low level endemic disease that we have to deal with? Most people believe that that first scenario where this might disappear completely is very, very unlikely, it just transmits too easily in the human population, so more likely waves or low level disease.
A lot of that is going to depend on what we as countries, as societies, do. If we do the testing of every single case, rapid isolation of the cases, you should be able to keep cases down low. If you simply rely on the big shut down measures without finding every case, then every time you take the brakes off, it could come back in waves. So that future frankly, may be determined by us and our response as much as the virus.
We are on the edge of possibly permanently changing the nature of what being human is. Since we have a lot of spare time, it would be w