Sponsored By Solutions II

Covid, Covid, Covid – What Else Is There To Talk About?

By Ed Maier, Former Andersen Partner

First of all, I hope each and every one of you and your families, employees, friends and others close to you had a safe and healthy Christmas, Hanukkah or however-you-celebrated this Holiday Season. And despite the life-intruding events thrust on all of us by the Covid pandemic, I wish you the best for a Happy 2021 and beyond!

But it has been one heck of a year, hasn’t it? Frankly, I am a little tired of this virus thing, aren’t you? Unfortunately, wishing it will go away is not a solution. So here are some of my thoughts as you ponder your life during and, hopefully, after Covid.

The quadrennial election cycle, which took up a significant portion of the media focus in the summer and fall, is no longer with us—though the tail of that cycle is a bit longer this year than it has been in the past. Notwithstanding the election, the media is saturated with reports on hospitalization rates, shortages and casualties; proposed vaccination delivery plans and failures to achieve those proposed vaccination delivery plans; recurring spikes in reported cases due to failure to follow recommended health guidelines; school schedules being adjusted and rescheduled and rescheduled again; sports and entertainment venues being opened, closed, reopened, re-closed and reopened again; regular business meetings and social gatherings being supplanted by Zoom or Facetime or RingCentral or AnyMeeting and on and on and on… Sometimes I feel like Alice down a Pandemic-land rabbit hole with no option to get back out. And every corner I turn I am faced with a mad Red Queen holding a Covid-19 scepter over my head.

But then, when I open my Headspace meditation app, focus on deep breaths, and let my mind clear, I come away with a different perspective. Think about this.

From 1861-1865, a generation of Americans experienced the American Civil War. From 1914-1918, another generation of Americans experienced the First World War, the so-called Great War, or the War to End All Wars. Shortly thereafter, during the 1918-1919 time frame, that same generation battled the Spanish flu in the United States. In what could have been a knockout blow, many of that same generation, as well as those in the following one, suffered through the Great Depression from1929-1933. That next generation of Americans then faced one of the darkest evils in history as they battled from 1939-1945 through the ravages of World War II.

Since early January of 2020, our generation of Americans, along with the rest of the world, have been engaged in our own war. In this war we are not fighting people in other countries; though sometimes it seems like we are at war with ourselves. But because of its nature, it has the potential to be more severe than any of the aforementioned conflicts.

Throughout our history as one of the strongest nations in the world, our hard-working citizenry has made the necessary sacrifices to overcome past threats and difficulties. We changed our behaviors as individuals and as a society. Our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents made sacrifices just as you and your children are making today. There sacrifices may have been different in nature, but your sacrifices are just as great. Some are behavioral. Some are educational. Some are financial. It seems like tragedies are occurring all around us on a daily basis.

We cannot ignore the difficulties, the consequences, the challenges from Covid. We cannot deny the pain and suffering that it has caused. But we must recognize the positives that are happening also. Think about the incredible efforts that the health care systems and its untiring battalions of doctors, nurses, orderlies, and staff are bringing to those who are ill. In many cases they are caring for others at tremendous personal risk to themselves. Recognize the first responders who show up every day to combat the physical dangers that affect society whether there is a pandemic raging around them. Think about the millions and millions of everyday workers who are finding new ways to perform their daily work responsibilities while at home; to help their children continue their educations over the internet; or to care for their senior loved ones whose activities are further limited by this virus. Recognize the armies of volunteers who are manning food banks and homeless shelters and places of refuge for those less fortunate or unable to fend for themselves.

And you know what? In all those recessions, pandemics and wars before us, prior generations of Americans responded by making the necessary sacrifices, by adapting their behaviors to respond to the need, by reaching out to help their countrymen. And what was the result of their sacrifices? What did the efforts of those individuals, families, neighborhoods, cities, counties, and states and, yes, even the federal government yield? They made us a stronger nation. And we will do the same.

I am confident that we will be better off as a result of the challenges we face today. Just as our predecessors who experienced these major historical challenges and took great steps forward in technological, economical, societal, medical, and educational arenas, so will our generation.

Now I am also not so naïve to believe that only good things happened in our country and our society as a result of past armed conflicts or economic downturns or he current pandemic. But without being “Pollyannaish”, I do believe in the “American spirit”. I do believe we have an individual and collective drive to improve our lot in life, no matter what the difficulties are. We do have faults in our political system; we do have inequities in social justice. But throughout our history, whether in wartime or peacetime; whether in periods of economic growth, recession, or depression; whether we are embroiled in significant social struggles; we have demonstrated an ultimate willingness to come together to solve the most difficult of problems. We may not always move fast enough; we may not always take the right actions in the moment. But we never shirk the need to do so.

During the period of the Civil War, changes in laws related to such things as homesteading and transportation opened vast new parts of the country to all of our people. One positive outcome of the Spanish flu pandemic was the considerable increase of the scientific research that went into the causes of and treatments for influenza. As a result of significant military production efforts undertaken in both World War I and World War II, new industries and professions were created. Educational systems were changed after World War II with the advent of programs like the GI Bill, which offered returning soldiers the opportunity to obtain higher education levels than they might have done so previously.

While the pandemic has been devastating to many industries and small businesses, economists are beginning to note the entrepreneurial spirit taking hold again. There is no doubt that the impact on certain industries has been and will be devastating. And some will not recover. But new businesses are springing up every day to help people deal with issues created by the pandemic. I am confident and optimistic that this business resurgence will continue. The pressures being put on to our health care system will force positive change. Education systems will continue to modify their delivery approaches in ways that will be more favorable and accessible. Innovation will continue to be stoked in a myriad of ways. You can only look at the speed with which the development of vaccinations has taken place to see that we have not lost our ability to respond to crises.

We are not out of the woods in dealing with Covid yet. I have no idea when I will feel comfortable resuming some of the activities that I always enjoyed. I am, however, optimistic that I will be able to resume them again at some point in 2021or beyond. So let’s all continue to put on our masks, maintain appropriate social distances, get our vaccinations and continue to focus our lives on beating this pandemic! I guarantee you we will. We will be stronger as individuals and as a country as a result. And in another generation, many of you will be regaling your grandchildren and great-grandchildren with stories about the Pandemic of 2020!

As always, I enjoy hearing from you. I would like to hear what you think. I am open to your suggestions for future topics. Feel free to write me at ed@thinkstraighttalkstraight.com.

And if you would like to read more of my thoughts on different subjects, you can go to pick up a copy of my book, “Think Straight. Talk Straight.” on Amazon.com.

A SUBSEQUENT NOTE TO OUR READERS!!!

I finished this article and was about to submit it. Then the shameless and utterly appalling attack on the Capitol occurred. Rather than try and put into words my own feelings about the behaviors and rhetoric I have seen and heard during this event and in its early aftermath, I will simply provide you with a favorite quotation from one of my personal heroes—Winston Churchill: “Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”

More to come on this, but for now, let’s get on with our democracy.