The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates just how fragile and precarious life on our planet is. That an invisible (at least to the naked eye) virus has such incredible power over us and can create such pervasive panic is both illuminating and alarming.
I am generally an optimist when it comes to the human condition so I hope that this latest challenge will bring out the best in us.
So far that hope appears to be a 50-50 proposition. The appalling behavior of panic-stricken people in stores and the obtuse politicization of this crisis in Congress and elsewhere in our nation’s capital is disgraceful.
On a personal note, I went to a local supermarket the other day to pick up some root beer and a gallon of milk. The behavior I witnessed was disgusting and dismaying. Wide-eyed, panicky people were sprinting down aisles sweeping canned goods from shelves into their grocery carts. Many shelves were completely emptied.
I felt as if I was witnessing the beginning of a zombie apocalypse. The scene reminded me something I once read from an expert on survival about how thin the line is between what we call civilization and the descent into full-blown chaos. Should there ever be a national crisis such as an Electromagnetic Pulse Attack we are only 72 hours away from complete anarchy and mayhem, he wrote.
Plunderers and thugs will arm themselves and prey on the weak, stealing food, shelter, medical supplies, transportation and anything else they perceive as essential to their survival.
Our concept of an orderly civilized society will dissolve quickly into a vicious, savage jungle where Darwin’s theory of “survival of the fittest” will be the prevailing law of the land.
Needless to say, it was a pretty dark assessment, but as I watched the crazed excuses for human beings in that grocery store grabbing, pushing, and shoving their way from depleted aisles to the long checkout lines, I could see just how fragile our civil society is.
One sign of hope was the fact that people were lining up for 20 or 30 minutes to obediently pay for the food and other items in their overflowing grocery carts instead of scampering out of the store without paying.
As I said, I am an optimist when it comes to human behavior. I am convinced that once the initial media-fueled panic over the Coronavirus subsides—and it will—we will all take a deep breath and calm down and the better side of humanity will prevail.
As I was writing this, I happened to click on the link below. It’s uplifting and the kind of thing that the panic-stricken among us would do well to listen to. Actually, it’s not a bad idea for all of us to give it a listen.
In the meantime, hoard not, love thy neighbor and wash those hands often!