This time last year we were experiencing the longest bull stock market in history, eleven years, from 2009 until early 2020.
“I wonder what will end it,” I thought to myself. After all, all good things come to an end. Something has to give. What will be the precipitating event?
I must admit, I hadn’t considered a worldwide plague. We’ve now all been there, done that. May 2020 rest in peace. We won’t think fondly of this year.
The old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” 2020 was certainly an interesting year. I can mark “endure plague” off my list of life experiences.
My best life experience comparison was the Swine Flu of 2009. The CDC estimates over 12,000 people died then. Not even close to Covid-19.
The Spanish Flu is our best comparison, which is estimated to have killed 675,000 people in the United States. That was one out of every 154 people. The average age of death was 28 years old.
So far, Covid-19 has killed 336,642 or one out of every 980 people. The average age of death was 80.
In terms of life years, the Spanish Flu was probably 30 times worse than Covid-19. It could have been a lot, lot worse. Every dark cloud has a silver lining.
No doubt there are more Covid-19 deaths to come, but some powerful vaccines are on the way. In addition, the CDC estimates almost a third of the U. S. population has already been infected. Herd immunity is within sight. There is an end to this dark, dark tunnel.
I was born an optimist. That’s just the way I am. I feel like we faced one of the great fears of mankind and survived. That gives me confidence about the future.
There have been many horror movies about some rapid-spreading virus wiping out humanity. Well, it didn’t wipe out humanity, not even close. And now we have some powerful new vaccine weapons in our arsenal.
For a virus to do this much damage, it had to be in the sweet spot of viruses. Not too deadly to be contained, yet deadly enough to wreak havoc. Covid-19 was in that sweet spot.
Remember Ebola? Far more deadly, but it was so deadly it was containable. Other corona viruses spread rapidly. Indeed, 30 percent of common colds are caused by the five common cold corona viruses. We ignore them because they don’t kill.
How do you contain a virus that causes no symptoms in half the people it infects? There’s no way, despite our best efforts.
We tried the locking down. It was supposed to be two weeks, but turned into two months. I was impressed at how well our society did its best to contain this plague. Lots of good citizenry.
But when we came back out, it was still there. Our economy was in shambles. Disruption in our lives was causing one shut down death for every two Covid deaths. Suicide and overdose deaths skyrocketed. People were afraid to get treatment at hospitals for cancer and heart conditions. The shut downs were a mess.
So we went back to work and did our best, masks and all.
The vaccines are coming just as the virus has mutated and become even more contagious, even as its fatality rate drops to a fifth of what it was in the beginning.
Our hospitals were pushed to their limits, but they stood the test, powered by tens of thousands of brave doctors, nurses and hospital staff. What a heroic feat.
Our nation, indeed the world, faced one of the greatest apocalyptically horrible scenarios imaginable and we survived. Many of our elderly loved ones were denied some of the last years of their lives. And some of our younger citizens died as well, but our society and economy are still strong.
Befitting a free nation, there was a vigorous debate about the deadliness of the virus and how we should respond as a society. Some wanted to shut down permanently until a vaccine came. Others believed the shut downs were causing more harm than the virus itself.
In the end, there was legitimacy to both sides of the debate. As a whole, the nation muddled through as best we could, trying to contain the virus through social action while still preserving our economy. It was a work in progress.
It will take years of study and retrospect to properly understand what happened and how we should have best responded. Governing is never easy and it’s extremely difficult during a unique crisis with no real road map. We did the best we could.
God works in mysterious ways. The new mRNA vaccines that we have now developed may end up saving far more lives in the near future than were lost during this past year. We may be on the cusp of winning our eons-old war with the viral hordes.
There are other cataclysmic bugaboos still out there threatening us: Global warming, a huge meteor colliding with Earth, destruction of the ozone layer, nuclear war, a computer virus global attack. The list is long and fear is plentiful.
As a believer, my fear is tempered by faith in God. He is in control. The Earth will end when he decides to end it.
Which doesn’t mean humans should give up trying to solve the world’s problem. God has given us the responsibility to be good stewards of the planet. God doesn’t want to do it all himself. He wants a relationship with his creation. Working with God, in prayerful devotion, love, fear and respect, there is nothing humanity can’t overcome.
This doesn’t mean I am without fear. There is one thing I do fear. God’s retribution if we turn away from him. The consequences of that will indeed be cataclysmic.
This new year we should renew our faith and obedience to God while being grateful that we have been given yet another chance.
Here’s to a Happy New Year, with Covid-19 soon in the rearview mirror! Let’s get our old lives back. Let the weddings, concerts and parties soon begin again.