In Search of Good News

The weather was quite nice in Wichita on Wednesday, with sunny skies and highs in the 70s, and on a brief walk around our picturesque Riverside neighborhood we noticed that flowers are blooming and the trees are coming back to life. Somehow the beauty of nature seemed slightly eerie, given that all the news is about nature trying to wipe out humankind, but we found it heartening nonetheless.
We returned home to read that the Senate unanimously passed a $2 trillion spending bill in response to the economic effects of the rapidly spreading coronavirus, which is expected to be quickly passed by the House of Representatives and signed into law by President Donald Trump, and we hope that turns out to be good news. The smart money on Wall Street seems to think so, as all the stock markets went up for a day, but no one expects it will stave off a severe recession and markets will likely go down with the next employment numbers. Despite the hopefully bipartisan agreement the bargaining it took get it seems to have exacerbated the the country’s political polarization, with everyone accusing the other side of exploiting a crisis for ideological reasons, which will make it harder for our democracy to make the hard decisions that are sure to come.
Sorry to sound so gloomy and doomy, but the news lately has little to offer but gloom and doom. A few days ago 100 Americans died of COVID-19 and now it’s more than 200 a day dying, and although the rate of increase in infections might be slowing — there’s no way of knowing given the limited testing that’s been done — there’s no sign of a decrease. Hospitals in such densely populated cities as New York and San Francisco and New Orleans and Detroit are running out of beds and
essential medical equipment, even the sparsely populated and mostly rural states have lost lives, and no one but Trump seems hopeful that it will take weeks rather than months before things will start getting better.
There’s still good news in the world that’s not in the news, though, and we urge you to look around and find it. The West Douglas Church of Christ is closed for the duration, but one of our fellow congregants called us today to say they’ll have carry-out communion bread and sealed communion cups, and to inquire if we needed anything the church might provide. We were happy to say that we’re getting, and volunteered for any errands that need to be run, and we much appreciated the call.
Some people have been selling stocks on inside information and hoarding toilet paper and otherwise acting with no regard for others, but we happily note that most people are being more considerate. We have to venture out of the house occasionally to obtain necessary supplies, and when we do the people we encounter maintain a polite distance but are friendly. Our Facebook friends keep posting hopeful messages and gallows humor, and people seem to be keeping in touch one way or another.
The flowers and the trees and greening grass and blue skies are good news, too, and if you’ve got that going on in your neighborhood we think it safe to advise you go out for a walk and take a look. We don’t expect to be able to celebrate Easter with our church and family and friends, but even in the spring of a plague year we believe in the miracle of resurrection.

— Bud Norman

The Coronavirus Vs. Civilization

The news about the coronavirus gets worse with each passing day. Infections and fatalities are spreading exponentially, more businesses and schools are being shut down, such large cities as San Francisco are in lockdown, the stock markets are tanking as the economic repercussions increase, and now even President Donald Trump has stopped downplaying the threat and is urging Americans not to gather in groups larger than ten.
If you’re bold enough to venture out in public, or are forced by circumstances to do so, you’ll probably notice the panic about it is palpable.
Already many Americans are hoarding supplies of food and toilet papers are other necessities, which is unfortunate but understandable, but some are also stocking up on guns and ammunition, which we find even more worrisome. The coronavirus is of course invulnerable to bullets, but many people are apparently preparing for the post-apocalyptic breakdown of civilization ’70s-era dystopian movie scenario they expect will follow.
At this point we’re taking this coronavirus very seriously, and keeping to our lifelong habit of avoiding human contact or encounters with any more people than necessary, and don’t disagree with all the advice about staying at home as much as possible. We expect that a horrific number of people will get sick, that a smaller but still horrific number of people will die, and that the economic consequences for those majority who survive will be severe.
Still, we hold out hope that commerce and some semblance of civilization will also somehow survive, and that we won’t need a whole lot of guns and ammunition to get by. We have a very fancy handgun and a couple of boxes of bullets, which are well hidden in a secret location and we hope to never use, but we’re not gun-slingin’ types and don’t think it would do us much good in one of those ’70s-era dystopian movie scenarios.
We know some of the people who are stocking up on guns and ammo, and in most cases they seem to relish those post-apocalyptic possibilities. They seem to find it more enticingly adventurous than their daily lives in a world of commerce and civilization, and imagine themselves the star of the movie rather than the extra who got mowed down in the first scene. Knowing that we’d probably be among the first victims of a collapse of commerce and civilization, and rather liking the many blessings of commerce and civilization, we’re hoping they’ll persist.
So far, we like our chances, even with Trump in the White House and former Vice President Joe Biden the only plausible alternative. Commerce and civilization have long proved resilient to plagues, and the American people are a pretty plucky bunch. For everyone stocking up on guns and ammo, there are far more doing their best to not spread any germs and volunteering to deliver essential goods to shut-ins and trying to keep calm and civilized. State and local governments are on the job, so are the cops and the military, businesses are setting aside certain hours for elderly shoppers and otherwise acting responsibly, and America is still a land of mostly good people.

— Bud Norman