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Finding a balance with coronavirus

Is it any wonder that the skies are a brighter blue and the smog has lifted from our cities? Are the oceans cleaner, the creeks and waterways clearer, the air a little easier to breathe, albeit through a mask?

If there has been one positive as a result of the coronavirus it is that the earth has been given a respite from the exhaust fumes generated by automobiles and airplanes. There are fewer greenhouse gas emissions due to the closing of manufacturing facilities, offices and businesses as a result of the stay at home orders.

It has been reported that the airlines have reduced their flight schedules by as much as 60% to 95% drastically cutting back on the exhaust fumes and contaminating air particles they emit. But are the current lives lost and the businesses shuttered worth it?

While we may be breathing easier, and the sky may appear bluer, it is not only those suffering from the physical effects of the virus but also those who are suffering mental health issues as a result of being shut in as well. Additionally, our economy is on a downward slope and there are those who cannot pay their mortgages due to the loss of jobs and income! It makes one have to take pause when asking the question “are we damned if we do or damned if we don’t?” How can one balance the cost of the physical and mental health issues facing Americans due to this pandemic, and the cost of the economic crisis that appears to be just around the corner? And then we have the issue of the environment, that being clean air.

I appreciate clean air as much as anyone, but we are, after all, an economy that runs on the ability to generate revenue. If people aren’t healthy and able to work money can’t be made. And we all know that our economy runs on the inevitable dollar. Money must be made in order to be spent, and right now it seems that more is being spent than being made – this, too, may be a global pandemic in the making. I believe it was Sir Isaac Newton who said something to the effect of “for every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction.” I’m not quite sure, but I do believe there just may be a correlation between Newton’s philosophy and the destruction this virus has created and the steps taken by our government(s). According to recent economic reports, the United States economy is expected to show the “biggest contraction in the second quarter in American history.” Can we afford it?

While President Trump has been calling for a reopening of the country’s businesses and manufacturing concerns, wanting and doing are two very different things. If we listen to the economists the recovery will be slow. And furthermore, the medical community is telling us that if we open too soon there will likely be a rebound of the virus that will be even more catastrophic than the initial one. This takes us back to damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

We all want our normal again. But what does “normal” mean and what will the world as we have come to believe as “normal” look like in the near future?

With millions of Americans out of work, unemployment claims at a staggering number, businesses that have been forced to close may never reopen, and the hundreds of thousands who have lost their lives, what will the future “normal” look like? Will the scars of personal loss, whether due to the physical effects of the illness or the economic ones, ever truly heal? Will social distancing and wearing masks become the modus operndi to which we will succumb?

These questions may be dire, but are not necessarily answered with only gloom and doom. There are many economists who believe the U.S. will rebound and do so with great vigor by the end of this year. Whether it will “take off like a rocket ship” as President Trump believes, it will definitely come back. After all, we are Americans.

Our forefathers came over on the ships from Europe and built cities from an otherwise wilderness, grandfathers and fathers fought and won wars, families struggled through the depression of the 30’s and never gave up, and we of today cannot give up either. I believe the American Spirit of those brave men and women of yesteryear remains today and I know it is that same determination and pride that has made the United States of America the greatest country in the world; we will get through this time and come out on the other side – maybe a little battered and bruised, but come out we will. But we have to be smart!

Winston Churchill said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” The manner in which we look at this current situation and what we choose to do about it is possibly the greatest threat to both physical and economic recovery. We are, therefore, responsible for how we think and for what we do.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t take this time to give thanks to those who fought for our freedoms and made the ultimate sacrifice. Memorial Day, the holiday that is a day set aside for remembrance of these valiant men and women, for them I am forever indebted.

Have a great day.

Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com

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