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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Having optimism

Anyone who knows me knows I tend toward optimism. It is almost always the most pragmatic approach. As we face an unprecedented time for our country, I find some very concrete reasons for optimism in the face of uncertainty.

Here are seven reasons to be optimistic:

1. The mortality rate scales with age. – As a society we have vulnerable populations at either end of the age spectrum, but if the statistics were skewed in the other direction I think even the most vulnerable members of the older generation would agree that this is preferable. Children seem to be very resilient in the face of COVID-19 and be assured, that is a blessing.

2. The food supply is fine. – Even though we see a lot items flying off the shelves, there is no fundamental disruption to the supply of necessary goods, nor is there an ongoing shift in demand. We see a temporary spike in demand, but we should also see a temporary drop at some point in the near future as folks realize they can use the four months supply of toilet paper they bought. The same goes for food.

3. The entire world is united in purpose. – This is something we really have not experienced in the modern era. We will see new innovations, new processes, new shifts in society and as of right now all signs are pointing toward this being a powerful force that is just now getting mobilized.

4. Society is discovering new tools and processes for work. – This will be a significant and lasting impact on society. Flexibility in work and education will fundamentally transform and the resulting increase in productivity and information sharing will be nothing short of revolutionary.

5. It could be a lot worse! – And maybe next time it will be, but we will be much better prepared. We are seeing a real-time stress test of many of our government and public health systems. On the other side, we will make permanent changes to these systems to be able to respond in the future. Our competency in all areas of pandemic response will increase by an order of magnitude. Many books will be written and we will learn. When this comes again, and maybe even worse, we will be ready.

6. We get an opportunity to serve our neighbor and community. – This is also a non-trivial benefit. Times of crises are when needs are greatest and also when you see many step up and serve. There are already many examples of this both in my small community but also in the world at large. These are great examples and will help lead society in a positive direction.

7. Corporations are doing their part. – By and large, you see every company doing the right thing. Companies are offering free and improved services for those most at need, help to their customers and even making sacrifices like closing down to support the nationwide guidelines.

Thank you and God bless.

Rocky Smith

Albemarle