Weekly ER visits in January 2020 was interesting. As I began to see online what was happening abroad About mid month, I started seeing how China was locking down their country. Blocking off streets, locking people in their homes, spraying disinfectant throughout the streets and people evidently being filmed dropped dead while walking. I was trying to think of whether that could happen here. Is it really THAT bad or is the communist party in China just insane? Either, we were crazy for not preparing or they were crazy for being so scared. Meanwhile in the ER, nothing was different. People just joked about it.

In February I went to the grocery store. It felt like a movie in slow motion. People were calm. Shelves were full (except for the TP) and no one seemed alarmed. I pictured 2-3 weeks later (like the experts were claiming), people all realizing that they were going to be stuck at home and flocking to the grocery store. I determined not to get into fistfights over canned tuna. I got online bought canned meats recommended to me by friends on Twitter, flour, PB&J and Top Ramen, way too much toilet paper (partially by accident), vitamins galore, and really good P100 masks. My rationale was simple: if this IS bad, I’m not going to be the sucker who’s family is starving while locked in my home. If it didn’t turn out bad, I’d donate the carbs to people who valued it.  I really didn’t anticipate state lock-downs, just voluntary social isolation.  I encouraged my wife to apply for non ER jobs just in case we decided hers was too dangerous for our family. I couldn’t raise my daughter without my incredible wife. If it turned out to not be too bad she could keep with her job. I started annoyingly encouraging my family and friends to prepare too. I felt weird because NO ONE was taking it seriously. Was this the pandemic situation, I’ve been thinking for years could happen? My dad is vulnerable with cancer and we have others around us who are older too. Meanwhile, the normal people on facebook were busy shaming people for rationally stocking up on toilet paper and supplies.

Mid February to the beginning of March, I began to be really concerned. Models out of Australia and London and more were predicting MILLIONS of deaths. They seemed credible. I didn’t see the code and didn’t have the skills to assess it, but I assumed they were reasonably accurate. No one seemed to care. We were told to “hug a Chinese person” and not to wear masks because they don’t work in preventing catching the virus.  I met a guy in the ER from the Oregon Health Authority by accident. He sternly warned me to not bring my daughter around there any more. He told me that hospitals and governments weren’t taking it seriously and poop was about to hit the fan. Masks and gowns were running out in the hospital and I began to have pretty serious emotional stress over the whole situation. Should I back out of the real estate deal I was working on? Should I have my wife quit her job and physically and financially cut ourselves off from the world? What about all the people without savings and without food? I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I cared about others more than they seemed to care about themselves.  In retrospect, I should have known if the guy evaluating the ER had “authority” in his title, I should be skeptical of his claims.

In late March, started a pretty big u-turn. Weirdo “conspiracy theorist” Del Bigtree on the Highwire and others were claiming that the stats out of China, Italy and the US were pointing to this not being as bad as we once thought. I started seeing credible reports of drugs that fight the virus. We were seeing that vulnerable populations might be the only people at high risk. At the same time I was starting to be less afraid, the masses FINALLY caught “the bug”. People started wanting to lock their neighbors in their homes and away from their businesses. People I know started proudly proclaiming how they snitched on their neighbors for having an outdoor BBQ. I wasn’t sure about the virus at this point, but I was sure this was the wrong way to handle it. I have and had a firm belief that I as a Christian, have to be a person of peace. I cannot advocate people being forcibly prohibited from congregating together, whether that’s in a church building, a tavern, a backyard, or a barber shop. I also knew enough about economics that Henry Hazlitt’s “seen and unseen” would strike in ways impossible to foresee. I met a neighbor in tears just talking to me and seeing our adorable daughter. She told me she was very depressed, hadn’t been out in weeks and her family and church wouldn’t be around her because she was almost 60 years old.

Rounding out March and April, I enjoyed giving my clients toilet paper for a house warming gifts and began to be less and less afraid of the virus. Arguments from various scientists, doctors and mathematicians were convincing me that whether this was a conspiracy or an accident, the response to a germ was one of the biggest mistakes in recent history.  How many more people would die of malaria due to mosquito nets not being delivered and drugs coming late? How many people would starve to death as funds to charities dried up? How many people would die alone in the hospital without family members around them? How many people would delay surgeries and cancer screening tests leading them to their grave early? How many people would kill themselves from being locked up in their home without sunshine and people to hold them up? What about people being literally pried away from their infants and thrown in jail for not wearing a mask? The hysteria was so strong that people wouldn’t and couldn’t think of these side effects from planetary lockdown. National debt, inflation of the monetary supply, bailouts for big businesses, increased surveillance of citizens and the freedom of assembly, speech etc. were not even on the radar of most around me. We would stop the virus at any cost… even if the cost was many more lives than would have died of the virus anyway and everything beautiful about our way of life.

As the lock-downs taper off, I wonder about the long-term ramifications of our actions. How will we dig ourselves out of the economic, moral and totalitarian hole we’ve dug for ourselves? Thankfully, we can all look in the mirror and admit our mistakes and learn from them. There is hope that comes from changing our ways. I’m incredibly grateful for all the people who have forgiven me for the wrong causes, stupid arguments, and insensitive remarks I’ve made over time.

Now, I enjoy being a rebel watching my daughter swing on the forbidden swing in the park for the first time and trying to daily focus on what I can change, my own thoughts and actions.