Love in the Time of Coronavirus

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Photo courtesy of the Daily Mail

An American baby-boomer, born in the post-war years of unprecedented financial security and well-being, I grew up in the best of all possible worlds. The tail-end of an older and simpler time still existed, at least remnants of it did, as well as some of people of that time, and I was blessed to know a few of them, as well as a child may ever know an adult. The world was still uncrowded enough, and considered safe enough, that children were allowed freedoms that are unknown and inconceivable today. Yet new and modern advances (vaccines, medical procedures, means of travel, the interstate system, technology, pharmaceuticals, chemical discoveries, inventions) all made our lives easier and safer than they had been for earlier generations.

It was, at least for modestly well-to-do middleclass families, an unprecedented time of plenty, and we all thought the good times would last forever.

The first hint I had that it might all end came in college. I took a geology class (primarily because it promised a certain number of field trips, and anything that got me outdoors was better than anything that kept me sitting in a classroom) taught by a stocky former Marine. I made the mistake of judging the book by its cover and sagged when I first saw him. He was the antithesis of the sixties, with ramrod posture, flattop (my hair was down to my shoulders), trim, neat, and he radiated authority. He was also one of the finest and most fascinating professors I had at a college that had many fine professors.

But in one lecture, when he was discussing arable soil types around the world, he digressed. The Great Chinese Famine had occurred only a few years earlier (1959-1961) and he discussed the causes of that, some of which were, to a small extent, the result of a sequence of natural and climactic disasters, but most of which were the result of the Chinese Communist Party’s appallingly bad economic and agrarian programs, and the callous entrenchment of the party and Chairman Mao. For those of you too young to remember these things, regard the official photograph of Chairman Mao above, fat and sleek and complacent; now consider that an estimated thirty- to forty-five-million (that’s 45,000,000) Chinese starved to death around the same time that official photograph was taken. If you have a strong stomach, do some research: among the accounts of rampant cannibalism and tens of thousands dying literally at the doors of storage warehouses where grain was kept that could have saved them, you can also find some photographs of the starving; they’ll get your attention. You can also find some of the propaganda photographs the Communists manufactured to try and hide the massive die-off of their people, with well-fed party members dressed up in sparkling clean peasant clothing, pretending to be happily harvesting the non-existent grain in the non-existent and painstakingly faked fields of plenty. But during his lecture, my professor stopped and commented that he would not live to see it, but that we—his students—might, and our children definitely would live to see a time when nations like China and India and the whole northern half of Africa were no longer able to feed themselves, and America would have to choose between feeding itself and sending food to the rest of the world. People would starve then, he said, not in the millions, but in the billions. Of course, he added, it might also happen because of a more deadly and contagious version of the 1918 pandemic.

And now here we are.

Do I think this is the biblical end of times, the pandemic that will end civilization as we know it, one of the seven plagues from the Book of Revelations? No. This is temporary. It will end in two months or ten or possibly twenty, but it will end and we, the human race, will get through it. But my greatest fear is that we will then resume our normal lifestyles and status quo, marching on as though nothing had happened, complacently profligate, dancing as though there had never been a break in the music.

Pandemic? What pandemic?

The two qualities man must have to survive are adaptability and the capacity to learn from the past.

One of those is a natural and intrinsic quality: some people are, by nature, more adaptable than others and can roll with the punches an indifferent nature throws. Those people are most likely to survive whatever comes.

The other can be taught, but far too frequently is not.

Learning from experience, and from the past, what can we take from this viral pandemic that will help us cope with the future?

First is the lesson that the Chinese government is not our friend. The Chinese government is not honest, with us or their own people. The Chinese government does not give a damn about human life, be it their own people’s, ours, or the miserable Uighurs currently being “re-educated” in “labor camps.” The Chinese government has cunningly and unscrupulously used cheap labor and inhumane working practices and conditions to seduce profit-hungry American companies to send work overseas, with the result that China now wields disproportionate clout. Your Nike shoes and other products used to be outsourced by China to Ethiopia, where workers are paid even less than they are in China, but the non-partisan think-tank Australian Strategic Policy Institute now states that Uighurs are used as slaves in the labor camps to manufacture products for global companies. The global brands that profit from the Chinese-enforced slave labor include (as of 2019): Abercrombie & Fitch, Acer, Adidas, Alstom, Amazon, Apple, ASUS, BAIC Motor, BMW, Bombardier, Bosch, BYD, Calvin Klein, Candy, Carter’s, Cerruti 1881, Changan Automobile, Cisco, CRRC, Dell, Electrolux, Fila, Founder Group, GAC Group (automobiles), Gap, Geely Auto, General Motors, Google, Goertek, H&M, Haier, Hart Schaffner Marx, Hisense, Hitachi, HP, HTC, Huawei, iFlyTek, Jack & Jones, Jaguar, Japan Display Inc., L.L.Bean, Lacoste, Land Rover, Lenovo, LG, Li-Ning, Mayor, Meizu, Mercedes-Benz, MG, Microsoft, Mitsubishi, Mitsumi, Nike, Nintendo, Nokia, The North Face, Oculus, Oppo, Panasonic, Polo Ralph Lauren, Puma, Roewe, SAIC Motor, Samsung, SGMW, Sharp, Siemens, Skechers, Sony, TDK, Tommy Hilfiger, Toshiba, Tsinghua Tongfang, Uniqlo, Victoria’s Secret, Vivo, Volkswagen, Xiaomi, Zara, Zegna, ZTE. You can add God only knows how many medicines and medical supplies to that list. How many products by those companies do you own? Who among us can live our daily lives without owning products from at least some of those companies? Now consider that you are not only benefitting from slave labor and contributing to the wealth of companies that know damn well and good what they are doing, but you are also contributing to the wealth of the Chinese government and it is happily spending that vast wealth on buying, if not the loyalty, at least the cooperation of strategically located countries around the world to extend and strengthen its global influence even more. (It’s called the Belt and Road Initiative and it should scare the hell out of anyone with an IQ above room temperature.) Yet try finding an American alternative to the products you need or want.

Which brings me to the lesson I most hope America learns from this, learns and remembers: if you depend on a foreign country, any foreign country, to manufacture your essential goods for you, you become that country’s slave, even if the country is well-intentioned. No one can accuse China of having good intentions toward the West, and especially not toward America. Let us hope American companies and consumers now realize the error of exporting jobs for quicker profits, and that Americans once again embrace the idea of the kind of hard work and resultant prosperity that made the post-World War Two years so golden. In every sense of that word. You can encourage that by buying American-made products whenever you can and by agitating to have corporations bring jobs back home.

But more than that, a far more important lesson I hope we all learn as individuals is to love and cherish one another as Christ instructed us to do. Wanting to see this beloved family member or that old friend, or wanting something as simple as worshipping with our friends and neighbors, and not being able to is a painful reminder of how brief our time is. And with this dreadful virus stalking the globe, it may be months before we can see some loved ones again. Call, write, Skype, or do whatever, but let them know you love them.

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14 thoughts on “Love in the Time of Coronavirus”

  1. “Which brings me to the lesson I most hope America learns from this, learns and remembers: if you depend on a foreign country, any foreign country, to manufacture your essential goods for you, you become that country’s slave, even if the country is well-intentioned.” Yes!! Exactly.

    One of the things I hope this time teaches us is to let go of our anger and hatred. I hope it drives us together, not only as families and citizens of cities and countries but as humans. I, too, doubt highly that this will be the end of civilization. It might be, though that God tired of our arguing and sent us all to our rooms. (That is very tongue-in-cheek!) May we come out in celebration when it is over and embrace our fellow man.

  2. I do not have any immediate family. There is no home to call.

    Yes, call your loved ones, but also, contact those of us who don’t have any loved ones. We are on our own. Almost no one looks out for us.

    I do have an enormous, everlasting, deep, abiding, respect and regard for you, JP. I hope you and your loved ones are faring alright through this crisis. Prayers for health and safety for all. I join you in hoping that we of the human race evolve to a better version of ourselves in the wake of COVID19.

    1. You are absolutely right: we all should all reach out, but it is also a two-way street. I just recently received an email from an old college friend from whom I had not heard in many years, and that random email sparked a conversation that is still on-going. So look up an old friend, a classmate, a former neighbor, anyone you might once have liked but lost contact with. It will brighten up her day and yours.
      Stay safe, and wash your hands.
      JP

      1. I truly appreciate your time and thought in your reply. It reads a bit as though you assume I don’t reach out. I do. Relationships are complicated for those of us who grew up in unusual circumstances, like cults, and who were adopted and surrendered by a biological family. On all fronts I have had people cut me out of their lives and refuse to talk to me, to pretend that I don’t exist because of who they are, not who I am. I spent all weekend doing research and found two half siblings who I never knew existed and I am certain they don’t know I exist. I was raised an only child. Do I tell them I exist? (I’m not asking, I’m conveying my inner dialogue.) Life is complicated. Those who have straightforward relationships likely don’t understand how grateful they should be for this.

        Michele

  3. This is a really excellent piece of writing. I live in Los Angeles and my widowed, almost 80 year-old Mom in D.C. It’s tough being on the other side of the world right now, but I literally can’t go home. In any event, I too worry that many people are just holding their breath and hoping to pick up business as usual, when this pandemic ought to serve as a wake-up call on so many levels.

  4. I always enjoy reading your posts. They are extremely well-written and I think you might have made a very good History teacher! I was a History major in college (University of Cincinnati) and I had a professor who gave a similar dire warning — understand what China has done to its own citizens and do not believe for a moment this government is capable of any empathy for human beings. Their ambitions for a “New Silk Road” should alarm every free person in the West as well as those of us in America. We will get through this virus. This Chinese virus. But unless we have the capacity to learn from the past, like you stated, we might leave our children with a country crippled by its dependence on another.

  5. Thank you for posting this, Jameson!! I agree whole-heartedly. We should be buying most of our products made in America, not China. I remember my parents and grandparents doing this back in the 50s and 60s. After that I’m not sure what happened, but seemed like most everything was made in China.

    I also agree that we should let our families and loved ones know that we love them and are praying for them during this pandemic. I called my sister Sharon last evening to do just exactly that. We hadn’t spoken to one another for 16 years. I’ve tried a few times. I even forgave her and asked her forgiveness, but she never wanted to try to patch things up. So when I called her I didn’t want to bring up the past or argue about anything. But when she heard my voice she started bringing up things from 20 years ago. I did my part by letting her know I still loved her. But she just can’t seem to let it go. I will always love and continue to pray for her but I cannot call her anymore.

    I love you, Jameson!! Give my love to your family! Take care and stay healthy. I pray for all of you everyday. May the Lord bless you!!!!

  6. A priest in Italy died of Corona because he gave his breathing machine to a younger man. He didn’t even know the man and recived the breathing machine from his church community because the health system couldn’t provide one for him. That priest is a real hero and christian. One could read this and blame God somehow. I think a lot of people have to fight with those thoughts at the moment. I’d like to point out that Corona is not a punishment of God. God sent his own son to earth and He paid the price for our sins over 2.000 years ago. There is no point in punishing after Jesus. (See also Matthew 13, 24-30). The Devil is the one who wants to distroy lives, relationships and gets us separated. He wants us to be sick on body, mind and soul. He is the one who likes us scared and in panic. Jesus said “Don’t be affraid” and “Peace be with you”.

    A few month ago I had to face a few deaths within the family and puplic people I liked and there was a thought in my mind that said: God is bringing those people home. They’ve done enough and something big is coming. Another friend of mine bought month ago supplies like crazy and didn’t even know why. That is what God does. He prepares us. He chose us to live in this time. That means we are able to go through this too. We can overcome the bad with the good.

    I also would like to inform you about some experts in Germany who fight for a stopp of all this new rules. I am no expert so I can’t proof any of this. But there are voices who say that it is not proofen that the virus is as danger as they say. At least not that danger that the politic decissions would make sense. There were always Corona virusis and it is not new, that there is a new one because a virus needs to change to keep living. The death rates in Europe are even lower then the last years. At least for now. You can check the statistic at http://www.euromomo.eu

    I’ve heard the same about China statistics.

    The Corona-test is not gone through all tests who are usual necessary. It is possible that it shows more virusis then Corona as positiv. Also, there were no Corona tests in the last years so you can’t combine the numbers with former information.

    For more check out http://www.wodarg.com He is only one of many experts who think this is a Corona-Hype and not a pandemic. They even changed the definition of pandemic. Otherwise nobody could call the current situation a pandemic.

    IF (!) this is going to be proofen right, I ask myself why this is happening. Maybe this is a strike against economy. Maybe China spread this fear over the world to hit economy, especially in the US because Trump is making the economy so strong.

    It’s like in a war. Economy breaks down to zero – and is able to grow from there again.

    I don’t know. But I found this thought interesing. I think we have to wait and see and make the best out of the situation. My horses are feeling like kings because I spend so much time with them right now. Love that. In every bad is also good. Greetings to everyone. God bless you all!

  7. Das größte Geschenk Gottes ist die Gesundheit, wofür wir dankbar sein sollten. Es ist nicht selbstverständlich dieses Geschenk von Geburt an erhalten zu dürfen und doch nehmen wir es zu oft als selbstverständlich entgegen. Doch jetzt in dieser momentan aufgetretenen schwierigen Zeit können wir darüber nachdenken und dankbar für dieses Luxusgut sein . Nicht Geld, teure Autos oder Immobilien sondern die Gesundheit, Familie, Freunde,
    Zusammenhalt und Liebe, sowie Verständnis,
    zueinander , miteinander und füreinander zählen an erster Stelle.
    Es wird nichts mehr so sein, wie es war .
    Werden wir noch einmal eine neue Chance von Gott für das Weiterbestehen unserer Welt erhalten ? Wenn nicht für uns, dann für unsere Kinder. Ich hoffe es .
    Meine Gebete sind mit euch . Bleibt gesund.
    Viele Grüße Manuela

  8. Mr. Parker,

    Thank you for this post on your website. I find it hypocritical for people today to be so emotional over the history of this nation, while knowingly supporting companies who are neck-deep in modern slavery. And you are correct, it is almost impossible now to not have goods produced in slave conditions. If memory serves me correctly, in the 1990s Nike was outed for this very issue. A few well produced ad campaigns later the ‘outrage’ disappeared like smoke in the wind. Now most every ball player in the country, even those who will not stand still for the national anthem, wear Nike proudly.

    I was asked a week ago by a coworker if I thought this pandemic may be the ‘beginning of the end.’ I told my coworker I did not, but it is a tap on mankind’s shoulder to return to our priorities of faith, family, and country.

    Take care,
    DC

  9. Hi JP,

    I fully agree with your sentiment that American (and Canadian) companies should shift their manufacturing away from China, but the problem is that “Communist” China has used slave labour to build up an unassailable competitive advantage.

    Let’s say that Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, decides that Apple will start assembling iPhones in California. One of two things will happen:
    1. Huawei, Nokia, Samsung, ZTE, etc. will be selling phones at a much lower price because they are still using slave labour, and Apple loses market share and goes out of business; or
    2. Apple shareholders will call an emergency board meeting because they forsee option #1, and replace Tim Cook with a new CEO.

    So the Chinese found a way to turn free market capitalism against us by using greed – not the need of the soybean farmer who just wants to make an honest living, but the greed of the investor who invested $200 000 in soybean futures and will do anything to make that increase to $250 000 or $300 000.

    Nikita Khrushchev was almost right when he said in 1956, “We will bury you!” He just didn’t realize that “We” included the man pictured in your post, not he himself.

    Gerald from Canada

  10. Jameson parker aka JP my idol. This world is very crazy. I reach out to loved ones and others that need help. But many people piss me off becuse they dont act like this is real. How do you deal with people that dont care?? I can tell them back up stay away but they just laugh and say this is all going way to far. I would juat stay home if i could but i have to wotk because they say i am essential!! Please stay safe JP.

    With Love Always. Lori

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