Did China give us all the greatest gift?

Here we are, on week whatever it is, in an upside-down world. Facebook warriors, long held in the trenches of tired arguments are suddenly thrust into the position of becoming communicative disease specialists. Doctors and nurses are the new heroes, along with supermarket workers and truck drivers. Stock indices are diving, and people are becoming self sufficient in new, innovative ways. Executives and reporters are working from home swarmed by children and barking dogs.

When the virus began to take hold, I remember thinking about how we may finally have the common enemy we have needed as of late. As the adage goes, “good times make weak men.” We have had too long a stretch of good times. People were growing complacent in their ignorance. Polarization was dividing us. We had no common focus to bring us again, together.

I have seen people, companies, and governments work together, bringing the best out of humanity. And that has been so refreshing. The IV drip of catastrophe experienced too long of a delay, allowing social decay to seep in. This is the dose we have been thirsting for, a dose to put things back into crisp perspective.

I think China may have given us a wonderful gift.

Of course, this is exempting the loss of life that is sweeping the World. The economic impacts of those that are suddenly without work, or school. These are certainly not gifts.

But is there a silver lining? Is there some lemonade from these lemons?

First, people are craving each other. We can’t shake hands, hug, or go for walks. Grandparents can’t hold their grandchildren. Friends can’t just meet for a beer. The simplest personal interactions are limited. And now we want what we cannot have. When this is over, I expect (at least for a short while), people to connect and not take that element of humanity for granted.

Second, this is a huge test and teacher. While this strain of Coronavirus is not as deadly as many past pandemics, we never know what is next. People have been able to wake up and realize how we need to be prepared for that next, perhaps much deadlier pandemic. Governments can test what works best, and families will hopefully learn the importance of cash savings and self-sustenance.

Parents are learning not only the true value of teachers, but how to re-engage with their kids and teach them.

Third, it has shined a light on civil liberties. Staunch anti-gun states have seen lines around the block at gun stores. Previously voted-for laws are now in question. People are trying to learn about – and interpret – where the right spot is on the spectrum between willful lockdown and civil trampling. I expect the lawsuits are stacking up like cord wood, waiting for the dust to settle. We will see some interesting case law changes come of this.

Last, people have been working together. Car companies are making ventilators. Clothing companies are making masks. Neighbors are helping the disabled and elderly. Government and private enterprise are working together. Schools are delivering meals to needy families.

To me, this is the greatest revelation of them all – that we all still have that thick bedrock of humanity that has long been buried under layers of confusion, ignorance, and deliberate polarization. While we have been played by those in power for far too long, it is so relieving to see how little is needed to bring out the best in all of us.

And for that, I’d like to say “thank you” to China, or at least to that one bat-eating nutcase.

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