When Fiction Becomes Real

What lies in the water? What lurks deep in the forest? What awaits us over the next mountain? What hides within us?

The unknown is perhaps our greatest fear. Knowledge shines a light into the dark recesses of the unknown. But light alone isn’t enough. We must study and learn what we are up against. Only then can we prepare a plan to deal with whatever we find… or in many cases… that which finds us.

The current pandemic gripping the world has found us. However, we shouldn’t be surprised. And we should have been better prepared.

But those thoughts aren’t of much comfort as we deal with the loss of friends, family, jobs, a way of life that many… though far from all… have grown accustomed to. And this contributes to our problem.

When we think of disasters, we often think of big things like storms, volcanoes, floods, earthquakes or wars. However, it is the tiniest of microbes which cause the greatest havoc on humanity.

And it is among the tiniest of these that brings us to where we are today. Best known as the coronavirus or COVID-19, the virus itself is designated SARS-CoV-2. And this designation should be a clue… we have seen its cousin before… back in 2003 with the SARS outbreak.

There are four main groups of the coronavirus. And they get their name from the crown like spikes on their surface. Of these groups there are seven variations that affect people. Others infect animals and new ones are emerging over time. Some you may know of these as MERS and SARS. All have struck us in this new century.

This latest virus, SARS-CoV-2 has caused the greatest havoc not seen in recent history. And the only reason it hasn’t been as bad as others is because of the worldwide effort to try and contain it. But these efforts were anything but smooth, and the battle isn’t over yet.

While a headline of 17 million filing for unemployment is terrible, there are millions more who don’t qualify to even file for this help. And the number isn’t even close to the tens of millions more people depend on these 17 million and those who don’t qualify for their own food and shelter. (This is only in the U.S.) Globally the numbers are staggering.

The stress on first responders around the globe is immense. The stress of all of us not knowing what the future will be like is unnerving. But also, let’s not forget all the people still out on the farms, in the processing plants, the warehouses, out on the road, the cargo ships, (don’t forget we are a global economy), and in the stores stocking shelves keeping the food supply chain operating. And in the U.S., many of these people either have marginal, if any health insurance or savings.

All of this is overwhelming. Many feel helpless. And in many cases we are.

But there are ways we can help, from donations of money, food and time, as well as lifting spirits through chalk paintings on sidewalks, to hanging Christmas lights and making hand sewn masks for others or just checking in on neighbors to see if they are OK.

Many people are taking action wherever they can. If nothing else, humanity is perseverant and resourceful. However, the problems we are facing are bigger than any individual, family, city, or even a country can deal with.

And, the  problems we face now will only grow for future generations. We have seen several epidemics just in this century, and were only at 2020.

OK, now I spent over thirty years in the corporate world and attended countless meetings. There was nothing worse than listening to people who just rehashed the problems but never had any thoughts on solutions.

But what can we do?

There is actually quite lot. Granted we’re kind of on a train track for this one, but let’s not blindly get a ticket for the next ride.

Here are some things I am doing that you may want to try as well:

1 Learn what we are up against (and not from social media). I have been continuing my education for years through The Great Courses  https://www.thegreatcourses.com/ . They have courses from top professors from colleges and universities from around the world and cover all kinds of courses. They come in audio, video DVD, and streaming video. My specialty leans toward science, history, and economics, but they include philosophy, psychology, architecture, music, and many more. For our current crisis, I recommend An Introduction to Infectious Diseases. I would give the professor a 4 out of 5 stars for delivery, but the content is timely. It is also scary in that the course was made before our current crisis but shows why we are where we are. If there were some kind of course requirement for anyone wanting to be a leader at any level of government, something like this should be on the list.


We have a home gym. We don’t want to take the time to drive to one. It isn’t much. A treadmill, a bike, and a weight machine. We watch these videos while we work out. The great thing is that we can watch them again and again if we want to.

They can be expensive. I wait for them to come on sale. (I don’t get a commission for sending you there.) If you go this route, get on the mailing list to hear when they have sales, which is often. Look for 70% or more.

If you are into more science for how we can fight these viruses in the future, try out Understanding the Quantum World followed by Introduction to Nanotechnology. They get into new technologies for fighting microorganisms inside the body. Great if you are feeling overwhelmed by what we are going through. There is hope.

2. Next, and I do this as well, while you are standing in some line waiting to get into a store, waiting for food at a food bank, standing in the unemployment line, or sitting at home with your computer, drop a note to your congressional representatives. All of them. And not just federal, include state and local as well. And then do it again. Remember the old adage… The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Make your voice heard. For those of us in the U.S., you can go to  https://www.congress.gov/. You can find your state representatives on your state’s website. And those of you in other countries have your websites listing contact information.

3. Vote!!!  We need leaders that will not only get us through these times in a united effort, but also be prepared for the next one. It isn’t a matter of if there will be a next one, but when. We need to build resiliency into our societies. And it needs to be a resiliency that includes everyone.

4. Next, fill our your census form. Out states and local towns and cities depend on this count to get the resources we need in times of crisis. Numbers mean funding. Make sure you are counted.

On a final note…

Disasters will always be with us. Unfortunately, that’s life. What makes the difference is how we face it, how we help each other, and how we build resiliency into our societies. Our societies include everyone.

I have heard over and over again people saying we will get through this. And we will. But the sad fact is that many of us won’t. Let’s honor them by striving to be prepared for the next event. No matter where we live, we need leadership with the foresight and ability to plan ahead, and leave no one behind.

There are things we can do. And one key factor that we shouldn’t put off is that while we are struggling just to get through this crisis, keep an eye out for the future. Stay informed.

Stay safe, help others where and when you can…



For those who want to say I told you so, turn to science fiction…

Outbreak – 1995

Contagion – 2011

For hope, inspiration, and warnings, we have the works of people like Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Gene Roddenberry. But do any of you remember the film by Harry Kleiner from 1966? It was a Fantastic Voyage. Now think of nano technology today. OK, Raquel Welch won’t be there, but as long as the little nanobots do the job, you can recover and watch the movie later.

Then there is The Andromeda Strain – 1966. Will we be ready.

It’s not like we haven’t been warned. Now while this last section is tongue in cheek, it demonstrates what Albert Einstein considered one of our greatest traits… He said that our imagination is more important than knowledge because it leads to science.

And science shines a light on darkness and ignorance.

(Of course the flip side is that our imaginations can also lead us astray when we don’t look for the facts.)

Anyway, just some things to think about.

Wishing you the best in these trying times.

Stay safe, follow the experts, look out for one another.


Posted April 12, 2020 by Julien

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