The Nature of a Crisis

Liliana Owen, Journalist

We all thought this CoViD19 panic would end soon. No one thought it would last more than a few weeks, or even a month. But, look at us! Here we are, and it’s been about four months since this whole thing started!

Will it ever end?

Let me tell you something about the nature of a crisis.

A Crisis Is Not An Event, But Humanity’s Reaction

A crisis is not really an event, it is people’s reactions to the event.

Example: Pearl Harbor. Was it really the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that was so terrible and launched us into WW2? Or could it have been our reaction to it: our panic, our blind trust in the government, our willingness to ‘defend our lands.’

Example #2: September 11, 2001. Was it really the attack on the twin harbors that was so bad? Or was it our reaction, the media’s portrayal of it, our willingness to go blindly into a war without calculating the costs?

Did you know that tragic things have always happened? That people have always died? That people have always died early, from natural disasters, illnesses, the contentions of humanity?

So is CoViD19 really the crisis, or is it our reaction to the virus? The media’s portrayal of the virus? Scientist’s inability to figure out ANYTHING concrete about the virus despite the fact that it’s been around for around nine months?

Everything Takes Forever

But let me tell you something else about the nature of a crisis: they always last a lot longer than anyone thinks.

Example: WW1. After the Louisiana was attacked and the USA joined the war, we all thought it would be over by Christmas! A few weeks, a few months at the most! And then how long did it last? Oh, about five years.

Example 2: the USA Civil War. After the southerners attacked a US fort, everyone thought this would be an easy fight, over in a few weeks. How long did it last? Oh, only… four years!

Example 3: the Spanish Flu, of 1918-1919. How long did we think that would last? A few weeks, a few months, MAYBE half a year. And how long did that last? Almost two years!

In short, everything is harder, more complicated, and more impossible than we realized.

What Does This Mean For Us In #CoronaWorld

To be frank, we have no clue what will happen in the future. We have no clue how long this will last. We have no clue how it will end.

At this point in time, the best thing for us to do is stop the speculation, accept this as our new reality, and settle down to make the best of it.

What Does This Mean For Society?

Let me tell you something, crises always change individuals, but they also change societies.

Example: By the end of WW2, women had a lot more freedom (and pants!), we wanted to relax and settle down and go to college and have babies. This resulted in: blue jeans for women much faster (one unexpected positive side effect of Hitler trying to conquer Europe)! Also, a large boost in population… that is going to crash our economy when they all decide they want to get their social security at the same time. Also a change in the focus of colleges –from literary, to job-training.

So how is our society going to change? Well, it depends. It depends a lot on a few things, namely: how we react to CoViD19, how we change as individuals, and what we demand (or don’t demand) from the government during CoViD19.