On January 27, 1838, Abraham Lincoln spoke before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois. In our current Wuhan virus ‘crisis,’ here are some of his words that are very relevant:
“At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reaches us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”
Keep the word “suicide” in mind as we continue our thoughts here.
Now, Lincoln was talking primarily about political institutions in that speech, but as we look at 17 million people being quarantined in Italy, we need to stop and take a few moments for self-awareness with regard to our “coronavirus” reactions.
First, Lincoln has to be counted among the most courageous of Americans, up there in the top ten with George Washington, Martin Luther King (putting aside his infidelity issues), and some unknown Civil War soldier who did Medal of Honor worthy heroic acts, of which the world will never know, to free black people. As opposed to coronavirus, the Civil War was truly an existential danger to the USA. And life went on.
Whether it was the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WWII, or 9/11, Americans seem to be able to show grace and courage under pressure and to “stay strong and carry on.”
So what are we doing in the face of the Wuhan Virus? Cultural suicide! And we are disgracing the memory of all Americans who have ever put their lives and their livelihoods on the line to keep this country strong and secure. In fact, we are disgracing our servicemen and women currently deployed all over the world, trying to keep us safe, as they face deadly terrorists, while many of us back here in the homeland are hunkering down and cowering like ground squirrels in their burrows when a coyote is prowling around.
Let me quote you a Chinese/Hong Kong-based pathologist, John Nicholls, as he explains the “deadly danger” from the coronavirus:
“Compared to SARS and MERS, we are talking about a coronavirus that has a mortality rate of eight to 10 times less deadly to SARS to MERS…So, a correct comparison is not SARS or MERS but a severe cold. Basically, this is a severe form of the cold.”
Did we get that? We are destroying our jobs and our livelihoods, canceling some of the best parts of our lives – vacations, educational conferences, concerts, etc. – because we are afraid of getting a nasty cold.
Come on folks – we are better than this!
Or are we? Our current cowardness in the face of the slight risk of getting a nasty cold shows me that we are succumbing to the modern liberal idea that “the government must do something!” in every crisis situation – after all, didn’t we pay a whole bunch of taxes so that the government can “handle our problems?”
Friends, fellow Americans – please lend me your ears. Our current lack of personal responsibility in dealing with “coronavirus” and our idea that “the government must do something!” are attitudes that are unworthy of being called American and for which we should all be duly ashamed.
Today, right now – start living your life again. Do not cancel your vacation (unless it’s to Iran, China, northern Italy, or South Korea). Do not cancel your conferences and other social events. Unless you need your money like now or in the next year, do not rank your money out of your investments. Do wash your hands a bit more often. Do carry hand sanitizer with you and be more diligent about personal hygiene – what we ought to be doing anyway during flu season.
Maybe you think I am an ostrich with my head in the sand about “the dangers of coronavirus.” Ok, fine, I am not a health professional.
So over the last two days, I’ve talked to a couple of health professionals. They both had pretty much the same reaction to coronavirus – it’s just a type of flu. Wash your hands often and keep your hands away from your face – just like you should do during every flu season. One professional said, “coronavirus does not phase me in the least. I’m looking forward to getting the boat out here in Florida and heading down to the Keys for some lobster fishing!”
And then, unlike my neighbor who elbow-bumped me and said “that coronavirus thing is really scary” after kindly helping me move some furniture, both health professionals reached out and shook my hand. If they aren’t afraid that coronavirus is going to kill them and their loved ones, maybe we all ought to take their lead and show a bit more bravery as our country sees an increase in people with a nasty cold*.
*No, I’m not heartless – but thousands of people in the US have been dying every year from respiratory illnesses related to colds, the flu, and pneumonia – long before the Wuhan Virus reared its ugly, but not so unfamiliar, head.*