We demanded this response, held Congressional hearings to legislate it, replaced the leaders who ignored the warning signs, and vowed to pay any price to ensure that it never happens again. If it saves just one life, we insisted, it will be worth it.
Not this crisis, of course. CV19 is still too fresh. But we have made the same urgent demand after every other crisis in our lifetimes.
"Why didn’t they see 9/11 coming and block the hijackers?"
"Why didn’t they recognize the financial bubble and avert the 2008 collapse?"
"Why didn’t they foresee a hurricane that floods New Orleans?"
"Why didn’t they identify the dangers of vaping before so many people died?"
After the fact, we always insist on the same answers. Who was asleep at the switch, whose job was it to recognize the gathering storm, what systems failed to respond effectively, and whom should we blame for the destruction that ensued?
It’s different this time, isn’t it? This time, we’re recognizing the threat and responding quickly. This time, we’re assessing the potential damage and racing to stop it, or at least slow it down. This time, state and local governments, international agencies and the private sector saw the tsunami headed our way and sounded the alarms. Eventually, even the federal government joined in the response.
This is what it looks like when we recognize the threat and take aggressive steps to avert a crisis. If all the social distancing and self-quarantines have their intended effect, the virus will move slowly and we will lose fewer souls than if we proceed without change.
It will be hard to see the difference, though. If 200,000 or 500,000 or 1,000,000 people die from an unchecked pandemic, we’ll absolutely see the impact. If those people live because we act to protect them, the benefit will be invisible. What will be absolutely clear is the price we pay, financially and socially, to save our fellow Americans.
It’s a price we insisted we would pay, or at least claimed we would pay after the last failure of response.
“We must guarantee this never happens again,” we said.
“If it saves just one life, it’s worth it,” we said.
“We have to be better at responding to these crises before they get out of control,” we said.
We know how damaging a contagion can be, both in terms of lost lives and economic disruption, and it's important to recognize that we'll be absorbing the economic damage either way. If we act to contain the spread, businesses shut down and people lose their livelihoods. If we don’t, untold numbers of people die and the economy trembles from their departure. There is, quite simply, no realistic projection that doesn’t include economic disruption.
Right now, we’re focused on the path that reduces loss of life. We’re biting the bullet to take the hit now so that we can reduce the total damage over the longer term. This is the response we have demanded after every other crisis. Painfully, but rightly, it’s the response we’ve demanded today.
Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.