The World Patiently Awaits Truth, Wisdom, and Knowledge at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on January 20, 2021.
How is it that the USA, the most powerful, most scientifically advanced and greatest economy in the world with 4% of the world’s population has about 25% of the global deaths and about 25% of the number of people infected with SARS-CoV-2?
Well, look no further than paucity of truth, wisdom, and scientific knowledge at the very top of the political leadership waging war against the pandemic.
Please don’t take my words for it. Just watch the videos of all the briefings of the “Federal Coronavirus Taskforce” and pay attention to the pronouncements of the top politicians. By and large, their approach, analysis and strategy to combat this lethal foe, SARS-CoV-2, leaves much to be desired. Quite often not much is said that represents even a shadow of the immense capacity and capability of the greatest nation on earth. Just self congratulatory statements only worthy of lamentations are dished out over and over again.
Of course the politicians on the Taskforce have got some things right. However, what they have left undone looms large as recorded in the spirits of over 162,000 men, women and children — and counting — who have departed the earth prematurely, a largely preventable loss.
In “The Pandemic Depression”, an early release from the September/October issue of FOREIGN AFFAIRS, “Carmen Reinhart and Vincent Reinhart explore the massive economic contraction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that could push as many as 60 million people into extreme poverty and bring globalization to a grinding halt”.
The majority of the tens of millions of people who will slide into extreme poverty and may not be able to escape from that pit reside in the third world, many of them in the nations of Sub-Saharan Africa.
While the dire economic consequences of this pandemic are predictable, the road to recovery is treacherous — and the social consequences are more difficult to predict particularly in nations with baseline poor infrastructure and weak institutions.
In a July 30 Executive Briefing report of McKinsey & Company, they gave their perspectives on COVID-19 and “the threats to lives and livelihoods, and how organizations can prepare for the next normal”.
“Our latest executive survey reveals a darkening outlook. But our review of vaccine research provides a ray of hope. In North America and in developing markets, executives have become less hopeful about their countries’ economies and more cautious in their views on potential scenarios for COVID-19 recovery. That’s a key finding from our latest poll of more than 2,000 global executives. Leaders in China and India, on the other hand, are growing more upbeat”.
The most profound effects of the sad and inexplicable American catastrophic response to the pandemic will be felt in the USA. However, there is little doubt that the ripple effects will be felt by the rest of the world especially in the developing nations.
As humanity endures this uncertain period, we are reminded of the serious consequences of leadership, be it effective or ineffective. Consequences that are deeply life changing especially in the face of a potent invisible foe like SARS-CoV- 2.
Our “new normal” in the world will be different from the previously known normal. In the future, normalcy and certainty would most likely be defined by intermittent periods of uncertainty and unexpected events as we are experiencing now. That is why truthful, wise and knowledgeable American participation and leadership in global institutions are so crucial, moving forward.
Leadership and Testifying To The Truth
No, the coronavirus will not go away; it will not just disappear.
No, children are not immune to the coronavirus. Yes, very few children are symptomatic when infected with COVID-19. Yes, some of the infected children go on to develop Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome, a very serious and sometimes deadly condition.
No, ingesting disinfectants will not get rid of the virus in the human body. No human being should try it.
No, the USA is not doing “better than any other country in the world”.
No, the reason for more cases of virus infection and deaths in the USA is not because “we are doing more testing”. It is because the virus is roaming freely, barely curtailed in several communities.
No, the economy cannot fully re-open until the coronavirus is contained and we are all committed to protecting ourselves and our neighbors by wearing masks, social distancing and washing our hands frequently.
No, schools should not reopen until community spread is controlled, and ideally, rapid testing is available in the schools and we can contact trace. All the necessary measures to protect our children, teachers, school staff and by extension, parents and grandparents should be in place.
Yes, all students, teachers and staff in all schools in the nation should wear mask.
Leadership and Wisdom
There is a pivotal passage in that sacred text, the Bible, which the President of the United States held up in front of St John’s Church across Lafayette Park in Washington DC on June 1, 2020.
“ For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions”. (Proverbs 8: 11–12; KJV).
The hope is that the conscience of the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC on January 20, 2021 will be quickened by the “Holiness” of the Word; i.e. the Bible, and that his mind will be nourished by the “Truth” contained therein. These are desperately needed not only in USA leadership, but also in the leaders of the rest of the world.
The wise leader yearns for the most selfless emotions which our nature is capable of exhibiting, thereby avoiding that self-centeredness to which our corruptible flesh is so susceptible.
The wise leader evaluates, thinks through and researches information and the advise he or she gets before acting on them or re- Tweeting them.
Knowledgeable Leadership Required to Provide Factual Information and to Counter Misinformation
Dissent, contrary views and even suspicion and distrust of authority are not uncommon in free pluralistic societies. When all is calm, very little harm is done, but not so during a pandemic. This is when knowledgeable leadership becomes indispensable.
To know, i.e. to be knowledgeable is to possess the truth about something.
To know is to have the humility to step aside and leave the podium to the experts to provide accurate and truthful information to the public.
The knowledgeable leader studies, understands the subject matter, e.g. COVID-19, and thereby has the credibility to truthfully counter misinformation and unproven treatments.
The study and comprehension of basic facts about the subject matter would avoid a situation whereby the leader of the free world left everyone alarmed when he suggested using powerful cleaning agents, through an injection, as a possible Covid-19 cure. A suggestion which rightly so, prompted aggressive pushback from the scientific community, the media and the public at large.
The earth’s continental land masses are separated by mighty oceans, large seas and other prominent waterways. This de facto separation however belies the reality of the closeness and connectivity of the world in an age of speedy air travel.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the inescapable natural connectivity and interdependence of the whole of mankind. We all breathe the same air and the droplets and pathogens in that air are totally oblivious to continental demarcations or national boundaries.
When it comes to viruses and other pathogens, it behooves the leaders of the nations of the world not only to realize our shared vulnerability, but to function as different parts of the same body. This is our new normal.