June 30, 2020
“Was I deceived? or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?”…
“I did not err; there does a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
And casts a gleam over this tufted grove.”
John Milton, 1634
There is no doubt the the Corona Virus pandemic is a very black cloud.
It has brought sickness, economic woe and death upon the world.
But does the pandemic cloud have a silver lining?
The most obvious silver lining is that the pandemic will pass.
A vaccine will be created and this, like every other virus, will be suppressed.
China locked down their country in a big way. Because of testing and contact tracing less than 5,000 of 1.4 billion Chinese citizens have died of COVID-19. In the process of shutting down society air pollution has dropped dramatically. A silver lining was found by a Stanford study which calculates that some 70,000 people in China will have been saved from a premature death due to this brief respite from toxic pollution levels.
Wildlife in closed National parks has flourished. Bears and lions roam more freely. Animal populations are likely to expand. Beware of the cloud. When humans return to the parks conflict between humans and wildlife will increase.
Working at home may be one of the longest term of the silver linings.
We may find that the future office will shift from urban buildings to the home. This will save employers’ overhead and will save employees the expense of commuting. Not being away from family for 10 hours each day is emotional capital.
Reconnecting with the family can help to strengthen family bonds. Teaching ones children, working together on projects around the house and getting to know each other is time well spent. Less fast food and more time for exercise and walks can improve our health. You are never truly isolated when you are with your family.
Not driving means less traffic, fewer accidents, money back from insurance companies, less pollution and money saved from less auto maintenance and gas expense.
The good works from some industries are inspiring. Perfume makers are producing hand sanitizer. Auto manufacturers are making respirators.
Liquid Sky shut down skydiving jumpsuit manufacturing and turned the factory into a mask making operation. For every mask you buy from Liquid Sky one is donated to a healthcare worker.
The heightened compassion emerging from the pandemic is a silver lining. People wear masks to protect the elderly and compromised. The new salutation, “Stay Safe,” speaks to our care for our fellow humans.
Home projects have lead to more urban agriculture. We are growing more of our food at home.
Acquiring skill sets from new hobbies are helping to round our characters.
Online entertainment is exposing us to art that we previously might not have seen. Direct to cable movies have replaced an expensive family night at the theater. Community live theater is streaming performances, often at no charge. My favorite chamber music group, Camerata Pacifica, streams live concerts on Sundays for free. When theaters and concert halls reopen there may be a resurgence of patronage of the arts.
Another online benefit is the rise of video conferencing. A group of my friends have been in more regular contact through Zoom than we have been in decades. It is wonderful to see their faces every Monday afternoon.
The best silver lining might be the benefit to our psyches. i am a calmer person in a slower, more measured schedule. i am less impatient. i take the time to hug more trees more often. i have the time to be contemplative. i think i am becoming more tolerant.
Our economic preparedness has been tested. i hope that this pause in commerce will help us to plan our finances more carefully and to allow for economic pauses like this one. Maybe this will lead to our collective ability to vacation longer or tolerate the occasional medical tragedy in our lives.
Most of all the pandemic has been a test of our mettle.
What silver lining will we see in other life trials?
Who are we and for whom do we truly care?
“‘Every cloud,’ says the proverb, ‘has a silver lining,’ and so I did not despair. “
PT Barnum 1869