There are some events that have a generational impact on our nation. Some, like the 9/11 attack or Pearl Harbor, brought our nation together. Others, like the Vietnam War or the election of Donald Trump, pulled us apart.
Clearly, the coronavirus is one of these events. While it’s easy to focus on the negative effects this virus has had, I thought this week I would share some of the positive impacts this global pandemic might have on our people, and our culture.
By highlighting these positive aspects, I am not in any way minimizing the difficulties many are going through. For those who are struggling from a sudden loss of an income, or a loved one, my heart and my prayers go out to you. And to all of the health-care workers and first responders, you all are truly my heroes.
As a lifelong fan of “The Andy Griffith Show,” I frequently comment that I wish I could just move to Mayberry. A place where time moves a little slower, people are a little nicer and things are just a whole lot simpler. Ironically, during this time of great fear and uncertainty, a version of Mayberry has sort of been established.
For many of us, the unrelenting schedules that seemed to govern our lives have all but disappeared. As a result, families have been able to just spend time with one another. I would guess more home-cooked meals have been eaten around a dinner table in the past month than the previous 12 combined. People are also waking up to the joys of simple pleasures like taking walks, reading books or playing board games.
While how we interact with extended family and friends has certainly changed, at least for me, the frequency has actually gone up. I now have the time and the motivation to call up loved ones just to see how they are doing, and the technology to feel close to them even from far away.
Our faith, which has been tested during this time, has also been strengthened. For many, I believe this crisis has provided a stark reminder that there are things outside of our control, and knowing God is there with us is the only thing that makes these difficult times bearable. According to a recent gallop poll, 19% of Americans interviewed between March 28 and April 1 said their faith or spirituality has gotten better as a result of the crisis. I hope this trend will only continue as people continue to look to the church for comfort and support.
Recent data could suggest the virus is beginning to subside here in the U.S. However, I believe the cultural paradigm shifts it has created will remain, particularly in the economy. People all over are waking up to the need for an emergency fund and recognizing the wisdom in saving part of their income. With every American having recently received a stimulus check, many will now be able to have some money set aside for a rainy day.
Industries that have historically relied on discretionary spending will be slowest to recover. Regardless of the health threat, I believe people are going to spend far less on entertainment, vacations, clothing and eating out than they once did. Don’t be surprised if many businesses that specialize in these types of products and services simply never reopen. As someone who once relied on tips to earn a living I do sympathize with the struggles people in these industries will continue to experience. However, in the long run a nation of people who spend less on things they don’t really need will be stronger and more resilient.
As someone with small children, I am filled with optimism even during this difficult time. I believe the changes we are making now will make the world a better place not only for us, but also for the next generation. America, I am proud of you.