People are frightened by coronavirus to such an extent that some people are in denial that it will come to their area. Many forget that God is in control and that there are benefits from God’s providence.
Climate change, international terrorism and epidemics have the benefit of knocking international heads together who do not normally speak to each other, far less work together. This is a good thing.
- coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has exposed the poor governance in China, the source of the outbreak being a market in Wuhan with poor hygiene standards, and it has embarrased the Chinese government to an extent that will hopefully implement change in its governance.
- COVID-19 has exposed the folly of Iran’s isolationism and strengthens the public resistance that may yet replace the repressive regime there.
- coronavirus is reducing international flights and will speed up more efficient solutions in the airline industry.
- coronavirus may yet be a catalyst for global change.
- the technical areas in medical research overcome geo-political differences and help to forge international co-operation.
- the international response to coronavirus is a good test case for a more serious global pandemic if one should arise.
- the international chaos from the pandemic should convince nations that ‘germ warfare’ is crazy and could not be controlled. This may cross over into the banality of nuclear warfare and create a new global consensus against military and ethnic conflict.
- coronavirus needs to be defeated all over the world, so that a global effort to improve the health services in third world countries may be a beneficial outcome of the pandemic.
- it shows the importance of national borders as the natural unit for protecting and providing for citizens worldwide.
- every crisis is an opportunity. The NHS came out of World War II.
- coronavirus has exposed that people don’t know what to do when they self-isolate. Coronavirus may help the nations to learn the value of slowing down, benefitting from the Lord’s weekly Sabbath and learning how to use their God-given ‘free time’. The nations will have learned this in the biblical Millennium.
- a national (not universal) basic household income may be the lasting result of the emergency measures being put into place during the crisis. This can only be a benefit arising from the pandemic. If such a measure was already in place, it would reduce the panic created by crises, mental distress, employment uncertainty, panic buying, stockpiling and the shortage of essential supplies. The nation cannot afford to allow households to live on the edge most of the time. Homelessness is an obvious carbuncle on society, but so is household poverty. Coronavirus has exposed and focused attention on this and its solution may be addressed during this crisis. Without this crisis, how long would it take Government to address it?
- Similarly, the provision of superfast fibre broadband may speed up. It is the most secure form of modern communication, helping those self-isolating.
- the collapse of Flybe, the latest in a long list of UK corporate failures, has hastened the demise of a failed business model. The UK Government had been asked to prop it up with a £100 million injection in Jan 2020, but the downturn with coronavirus demonstrates that it would have been throwing good money after bad. Of course, coronavirus also serves as a good excuse for top management in various corporations and banks to blame it instead of its own failures.
- domestic and regional connectivity in the UK should not depend upon propping up failed businesses. Coronavirus will provoke more imaginative solutions for the future.
- it will teach employees and the public to pay more attention to the mismanagement of companies before they fail. The list of failures is growing in the UK. John Lewis is today’s example moving in the same direction, following the same course of corporate mismanagement.
- coronavirus has exposed the over-inflated self-importance of top managers attempting to manage businesses that are “too big to manage”. Today’s news about Save the Children is simply today’s current case. Examples are reported in the mass media on an almost daily basis.
- businesses are learning to streamline as a result of coronavirus.
- they are speeding up processes for employees to work from home.
- coronavirus has laid bare the fragility and vulnerability of the care sector and the unintended consequences of working mothers being unavailable to look after children and elderly relatives.
- the cash flow problem has been highlighted by coronavirus and the risky behaviour of having poorly-assessed and low reserves. Many household names have disappeared from our High Street through failure to build up reserves. Businesses were persuaded that they must expand and take risks in order to survive in ‘today’s competitive environment’. Instead coronavirus has taught us that this is the route to demise and it may help future businessmen to argue in favour of retaining reserves for ‘the rainy day’. It is similar to banks needing to learn to recapitalise themselves and to ‘stress-test’ themselves against financial shocks on a regular basis. It is called prudent house-keeping, or as a certain Prime Minister who believed in prudent house-keeping said: “You cannot buck the market.”
- there will be increased scientific knowledge from studying a new disease.
- medicine progresses by studying disease.
- the USA stockpiled Ebola-virus vaccine and some are trialling it on coronavirus, but I do not know if there has been any success from this. Similarly other treatments are being rapidly trialled.
- the international race is on to find a vaccine. The difficulty is that coronavirus is among the 200 viruses that causes the common cold, to which we have not yet found a vaccine. The benefit of finding a vaccine to coronavirus might be widespread beyond what we can imagine at present
- on the whole, viruses must be good for us or mankind would not live in such a symbiotic relationship with so many of them.
- coronavirus is teaching people about their personal vulnerability as well as exposing personal stupidity in human behaviour.
- it is teaching and promoting personal hygiene.
- it may teach individuals to build up savings to withstand a three-month social and societal lockdown and thereby teach the savings habit. It is not only governments and businesses who have been caught out by a cash-flow and a supply-chain crisis, but individual households who have yet to learn how to budget for the future and for downturns.
- community cohesion may improve as people learn to pitch in when the pressure begins to pinch.
- self-isolation may teach people what loneliness feels like to the elderly confined to their home.
- coronavirus is speeding up working from home and online teaching packages, so that ‘working mothers’ can look after children and their elderly relatives once more.
- it teaches people to prioritise their lives.
- those who catch coronavirus early will have an NHS that can cope with the infection, better than those who catch it when the NHS is overwhelmed. I note that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was happy to shake hands when he arrived in the BBC Breakfast studio this morning.
- it should teach thinking people the folly of the evolutionary hypothesis.
- it makes people reconsider human behaviour and “what makes us tick”. It highlights and questions human behaviour; see my update comments below.
- irresponsible young people are reminded by the WHO chief that they are not invincible.
The Government mantra is: “Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.” However, it is apparent that multitudes of people do not prepare for the evil day. This is demonstrated by the panic buying of hand sanitiser and toilet paper. If they want to stock up, why did they not do so weeks ago? Because they do not prepare for the worst.
In spite of multitudes of warnings, the only warning that concentrates the mind is impending doom. Hanging concentrates the mind wonderfully. This is why ‘hell-fire preaching’ was so effective in modifying human behaviour and preventing the violence, thieving, lying and general wickedness we witness in our careless risk-taking society where a lost eternity is mocked and not believed – where they fail ‘to prepare for the worst’.
The Bible warns us: ‘Prepare to meet thy God.’Amos 4:12
Thankfully, Jesus Christ has made preparation for us.
Jesus said to His disciples: ‘There is plenty of room in My Father’s house. If it was not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.’
He continued: ‘If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.’John 14:2-3.
This is good news. Jesus has made the way, opened the way and prepared a place in heaven. Will you be among them? Will you trust Him to show you the Way and follow Him?
5 Mar 2020: Tim Stanley, a panellist on BBC Question Time tonight, brought God into the discussion on coronavirus, not as God’s judgment upon mankind but how we should and would respond to the crisis. It is God’s test how we will respond. He put it in the context of theology, presumably Roman Catholic theology. Could he have read this blogpost or this blog about bringing Christianity into public life? Probably not, for Roman Catholic theology is not as hopeful as biblical theology nor this blog.
10 Mar 2020: what can you do about it? Daily Vit D3 helps to reduce the risk of respiratory tract infection, especially in those who are Vit-D deficient. The link explains the initial management of throat infection.
14 Mar 2020: already the Chinese are helping out the Italians in their distress, while the EU abandons Italy. The eurozone crisis leads to the Italians hoping the Chinese will buy their bonds. The Italians are singing to boost their spirits and build community cohesion. The US is starting ‘to look like Italy’. How did Italy become Europe’s epicentre when it was the first to implement a travel ban?
16 Mar 2020: Italian and Spanish solidarity with their healthcare workers.
16 Mar 2020: Tim Stanley, see 5 Mar 2020 above, returned to his theme in his column in today’s Daily Telegraph. His argument amounts to: coronavirus will demonstrate that Christians are “constitutionally obliged to be nice to you”, so “this is why you should join a church even if you don’t 100 per cent believe in God.” Atheists and others will have little difficulty interacting with this polemic, although he tries to fend them off with “atheists might scoff at praying to saints for help … but … the consolation of faith is a powerful medicine”. Although Stanley was raised a Baptist, became an Anglican and then a Roman Catholic, he has still to learn how to defend the Christian faith. Indeed, this is why Romanism lost the arguments of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation, why it is still losing the argument in the abortion debate both in the UK and the USA, and why it does not and will not persuade multitudes to the present time. It loses arguments, but Stanley thinks the milk of human kindness will make up for this.
The G20 and the USA
The Leader in the same newspaper asks: “who is to provide such global leadership? The international institutions like the G20 are there for such an eventuality yet have failed. The United States, the one [sic] country that in the past has offered world leadership, has a president who is singularly ill-suited to such a role.”
What about UK leadership in WWII and in the 2008 financial crisis, both within living memory? Leaving this aside, 1. is it not that same president who has complained about the ineffectiveness of the G20 and tried to provoke both it and NATO to take more responsibility for their role in the world? 2. is it not the mockery of Republican Presidents by the western world that has led to that president’s treating them with their own medicine? 3. is it not this same nation that has been accused of being the world’s policeman with the policy of interventionism? 4. is it not this same nation that stepped back during the African Spring and the Syrian civil war because of these complaints? 5. how predictable is it to hear the cry “Where are the Americans?” whenever there is catastrophe? Rather, where is the economic might of the Chinese, Saudi Arabians and Arab states? These questions never arise for very good reasons. If the world suffers because it has miscalled the hand that feeds it, it has itself to blame. It is little wonder that Donald Trump ignores those who cannot be pleased whatever position one adopts. Grievance politics is not confined to the SNP but it is native to the human condition and manifests itself in international politics.
Meanwhile, the American Federal Reserve has ridden to the global rescue by buying $500bn of US Government debt in order to make US Dollars available to the world market to provide dollar liquidity to the banks around the world, including the Bank of England, which Andrew Bailey in his first day as the new Governor of the Bank of England acknowledged with thanks will help inter-bank lending, which dried up in 2008 and exacerbated the financial crash at that time. This was the Federal Reserve’s largest intervention since the 2008 crisis. Thanks to the Americans. No thanks to the editorial in the Daily Telegraph and to the nauseating anti-Americanism in the UK.
Such unthankfulness is a reminder to Christians not to expect thanks from this ungrateful world but to serve their God and Lord Jesus Christ Who will gratefully and thankfully acknowledge their service in due course. The ungodly world is a poor master to serve.
17 Mar 2020: Emily Thornbury joined in Trump-bashing. Coronavirus demonstrates that some people cannot avoid making political points if they think it helps them.
17 Mar 2020: Coronavirus is making many people question their priorities and Emily Maitlis in BBC Newsnight tonight asked more searching questions. She chose the former chief rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks as the sage who may answer her question about the goodness of human nature in the light of personal selfishness demonstrated in the stockpiling of food and essential supplies. Expressing his dismay at the personal self-interest in stockpiling behaviour, he asserted: “The goodness of people has not surprised me at all because out of crisis human nature always tends to goodness, to help.” Really? Maitlis probed: “100 years ago there was a sense of being God-fearing. Now we are majority atheist. I wonder where that sense of duty comes from if it is not a fear of God.” Sacks answered: “This is the nearest we have to a revelation, even to atheists. Here we suddenly see our vulnerability. … all of a sudden we are facing the fragility and vulnerability of the human situation and at the end of the day, even without a faith in God, we have to say either we work together and survive or we work separately and perish.” He explained the revelation as “the inescapably interlinked nature of our humanity.” This is an explanation from which God is excluded and it is explained simply as collective self-interest. “We are all in it together” is true, but it explains motive and duty in secular terms. Sacks had no contribution to make on the role far less the necessity and utility of being ‘God-fearing’. Duty was explained simply as collective self-interest, and accountability to God was overlooked.
25 Mar 2020: the Bible teaches us not to be presumptuous and to say “God willing” about future plans. The coronavirus has taught the Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack more caution when he responded to a question in the House of Commons and said that he hoped that COP26 would take place in November in Glasgow “COVID-19 willing”.
27 Mar 2020: Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Health Secretary have tested positive with coronavirus, and the Chief Medical Advisor is self-isolating with symptoms.