Like it or not the Coronavirus Pandemic has been the major cultural and social influencer for the past two years.  Whether your perspective is one of extreme caution or one that sees in COVID19 only as a minimal risk, this period has greatly influenced all of our lives in one way or another.  I think this virus and our reaction to it will be written about for years to come. I am not a physician nor an expert in public health, but it does seem that things like the end is nearing, not just here in Florida, but around the world as to how we now see COVID19.  I am not going to be foolish enough to declare the “end of the Coronavirus Pandemic” but there definitely seems to be something changing.  While there will always be extremists and those who peddle in fear or those who uses times of crisis to advance an agenda or exert control, those are not the voices we should listen to.  You might ask why do I think a change is happening?  It is not so much based in examining daily infection rates, hospitalization trends or mortality numbers, rather I look at what is now starting to happen around the world.  While there are still many restrictions in place, more and more countries (such as the UK and Denmark) are lifting travel restrictions, mask requirements, and vaccine mandates.  They state that COVID19 is no longer a major public health threat due to vaccine availability, treatment options, and natural immunity.  It’s time to go back to normal.  Waiting for zero cases is unrealistic.  In the history of the world, we have only eliminated one virus (smallpox) and that took a century.  I am not sure why there seems to be such intransigence on the part of the CDC and Dr. Fauci to let go of their “Chicken Little” narratives.  I understand the nature of medicine is to be cautious, but one wonders if there is more at play.

In reflecting on these last two years, there are some lessons that I have learned from all of this.  I would like to share with you my insights for what they are worth.  I want to state up front that if I could go back and time, there would be some things I would have done differently so I am not second guessing or criticizing anyone, just trying to learn from all this as we moved forward.  So here are the top seven things I have learned from the Coronavirus Pandemic.

#1. Once you give up a right voluntarily, it’s a lot harder to get it back.  Most people supported what was supposed to be a two week or month long lockdown period when Coronavirus first started, but rather quickly that got extended with more and more restrictions added all in the name of “public safety” or “for our own good.”  These are exactly the taglines that oppressive governments use to maintain control.  We should vigorously defend rights and not give into a mob mentality that would toss our rights away as mere luxuries.

#2. In times of uncertainty, it is easy to get caught up in emotion.  Emotion is not logical.  Making decisions just on how one feels will always get us in trouble.  The problem is that everyone feels in different ways.  A young healthy person may truly be afraid of COVID19 even though their risk of serious illness is extremely low, yet that does not mean their fear is not real.  We must acknowledge what people are feeling, but not make decisions based solely on that.

#3. In times of crisis, we must rely on our faith above all else.  Sadly, church became a place of scorn during the pandemic.  People often put fear over faith in direct contradiction to what Jesus tells us.  We cannot let fear rule our lives.  While science certainly can improve our lives, we cannot worship science or expect science to have all the answers.  Our true hope is found in God alone.  It is easy to go to church when times are good, but harder when our faith is tested, but this is when we need our faith the most!

#4. Cherish your loved ones.  Many people have died during this pandemic.  It is always hard to lose those we love.  We should never take for granted those in our lives.  It matters little whether COVID hastened someone’s death by a few days, a couple of years or several decades, the loss is still the same!  The truth is that our bodies are mortal and at some point, will give out.  Obviously, we want as much time as possible with those we love, but that is not up to us so cherish each day and those you love.

#5.  Children are resilient but we still need us to advocate for them.  While the mortality rates for children from COVID remain extremely low that does not mean they have not suffered.  Obviously, some have lost loved ones, even parents, but all children have been hurt by excessive lockdowns, virtual “learning,” mask requirements, and social restrictions.  So much of who we are as persons is formed during our childhood.  So many children have been robbed of this precious and important time and likely will impact them for the rest of their lives.  Just as low nutrition in children impacts their physical potential as adults so too does low socialization and education. Children have been used as pawns by many.  Their voices are soft, so we have the duty to speak up for them.

#6. Regardless of how someone feels about the dangers of COVID19, everyone has experienced some level of frustration.  Sometimes these frustrations are relatively small and are about a lack of convenience while other frustrations stem from significant restrictions beyond our control that deeply affect our lives or our livelihoods.  It is easy to get frustrated when things are beyond our control.  Instead of getting angry, maybe this is an opportunity to reflect on what it is like to live in a war-torn country, or in a Third World nation, or under a totalitarian regime.  Hopefully, this has opened our eyes to needs beyond us and the blessing we often take for granted.

#7. Stand up for what is right.  We should never let government bureaucrats tell us how we should live our lives especially in the area of faith.  While I am not a conspiracy theorist, I do believe that some in the government and media have tried to use this pandemic to suppress and limit faith, especially the Catholic faith.  They want nothing more than to make faith irrelevant in the lives of people.  Since our faith is centered around the Eucharist, there is no “virtual model” that can ever take the place of going to mass and receiving Holy Communion.  We must let our voices be heard so that what is most important will never be taken from us.

Those are some of the lessons I have learned.  What lessons have you learned?