I’ve read a few articles recently that have discussed the idea of this pandemic being some form of a reset, and others touting an economic equalizer. I’m not sure about an equalizer but if there is anything I have learned in all my years of living it’s that through trials and tribulations come the greatest opportunities for growth and improvement. The Covid-19 disease has already and will continue to change the world as we know it.
Will this be a difficult time for many? Undoubtedly. Everyone will be affected by this in some form or another, if they haven’t already. You can’t have 3.28 million people in America file for unemployment benefits in one week without it having ripple effects. Bloomberg news reported that the number filing for unemployment in Norway jumped 350% and the unemployment rate shot up to 10.4%. This is all in the past two weeks! This is just the beginning and the road ahead will be full of potholes and obstacles for many of us.
Does this mean that everything is gloom and doom from here on out? No of course not. There will be a turning point and things will eventually get better. I’m a believer in the future of the United States of America. I’m also a believer in the future of our world and all of it’s beautiful countries and peoples. Hell, I’m a believer in the human spirit in general, and most of all I’m a believer in human ingenuity. Don’t ever bet against people and their ability to overcome obstacles that stand in their way.
This reminds me of a fantastic book I read recently written by Ryan Holiday titled The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph. The title and concept of the book is based on a Marcus Aurelius quote which reads, “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” I love everything about that quote. It speaks to my very soul.
Humans are known for adapting and overcoming. That’s what makes us different than other species. We adapt like no other. We live on every climate on the earth and maybe to our own detriment we build like no other species can. You can’t walk through New York, Paris, Shanghai or any major city and not be amazed at the sheer complexity and grandiosity of human creativity and imagination.
You see human ingenuity in the foods, the clothes, the signs, the lights, the cars, the streets, the skyscrapers, and just about everything you see in a major city is a testament to the hand of God working through the human mind.
So am I optimistic about the future. You better believe I am. It’s going to be better than anything we know now. Similar to how we look at the days of yore and lament at the thought of no air conditioning, cars, planes, medicine and dentistry without anesthesia. We will look back at this time and say “that was crazy, but we survived.” The reality is we won’t just survive it but but we will thrive through it.
One day we will look at a chart of the S&P 500 and this whole time period will simply be a blip on the chart. I don’t mean that to make light of the situation but only to point out that in the annals of time and history it will be small. To us, and as we live through the events, it will be everything in that moment. Perspective is everything. Eternal perspective is everything.
That being said after the threat of this virus has subsided, things will look different. Jobs will look different. There will be new opportunities for new jobs and there will also be more liquidity in our economic system due to the Federal Reserve and Congress’ unprecedented actions. There will be more access to cheap money than we have ever known before. With that change will come repercussions that we will have to deal with for years after the crisis.
I’m not sure what unemployment will look like over the next several years but some, including our Treasury Secretary, are saying that it could get to as high as 20%. If that’s the case the economy will shift and some industries will die and new ones will emerge.
One obvious change in the workforce that I can see because of all of this is the increase in remote workers. This has been a great worldwide experiment in remote productivity. If the numbers come back that some companies have been able to thrive in this environment and some employees have even improved productivity, then there is no looking back.
Another outcome that I see unfolding now is an even faster shift from face to face brick and mortar retail to more online stores and more delivery options. We will be a world of people huddled and more isolated in our homes as we can have access to everything we want, when we want. We’ve become little emperors and empresses with the world in the palm of our hands. If Mansa Musa could see me now!
In the end, I’m still not exactly sure how all of this plays out but if history is an indication all world economies will decline for a period and then eventually move higher. The same can be said for our resilience as a people. We will take a hit, people will die, and suffering is inevitable, but we will move on and be stronger because of it.
I’m a believer in purpose. Everything has a purpose. I know that it is hard to find purpose in suffering and loss. There have been times in my life where I have gone through great suffering that seemed to have no purpose or reason. It is only decades later that I am able to see a snippet of the great Creator’s plan for my life. In the moment we never have full context, and the wisdom that comes with retrospection and a fuller knowledge of other forces at work.
There are brighter days ahead and growth to be had both, spiritually and temporally. I’m more grateful now for the little things in life. The fresh air, the sun, the moon, my loved ones, friends, and the use of my senses to name a few. Cherish what you have. There is always space for gratitude. Things will get better. As far as a reset. Sure. Whatever we call it, a reset, a fresh start, time for change, it will all be new and exciting and an opportunity to discover or rediscover who we are, why we are here, and where we are going.