March 24, 2020

Just when we thought we’d seen everything

           Here I sit.
And there you sit.
We are probably doing the same thing, wondering what’s next. Just when we thought we’d seen everything, the coronavirus proves we have not.
            I remember that Tuesday morning, Sept. 11, 2001. As I was walking to the office copier, someone said, “A plane just hit the World Trade Center in New York.” My immediate thought was: “A small plane got into trouble and couldn’t make it to a landing strip.”
            Within minutes, I learned what the world knew: “This was no ordinary plane crash.” By the time we were told terrorists had commandeered and crashed four planes, we knew those evil deeds had turned our world upside down. As the country had been after Japan’s surprise strike on Pearl Harbor, America was stunned. How could this happen to us, the United States?
            I wasn’t alive when the bombs dropped, but my parents told me how Dec. 7, 1941—which FDR described as a day of infamy—changed their lives and the lives of others. I was alive on 9/11, as many of you were, too. Did you ever imagine something this unimaginable would ever happen again?
            And now here’s 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic. Look into the eyes above the masks. See the angst and fear. One day, America is celebrating a robust bull market. The next day, Wall Street starts a downward spiral not seen since 1987’s Black Monday. Some economists believe the market will get even worse before it gets better. Millions of people are wondering whether their jobs and money will survive this real-life horror movie.
But what good is a paycheck or a 401(k) if you are dying from the coronavirus? There are people who minimize what’s going on. I am not one of them. The government might not be able to give us all the assurance we want. That’s why we must depend on common sense and safe practices. Ample amounts of prayer, ingenuity, flexibility, cooperation, compassion and determination will be required for America to rebound. And we will.

We know the social-distancing and wash-your-hands drills. We should heed the advice. I want your family and mine to be able to look back and say, “We did the right things to protect ourselves.”
            At this moment, I am also focusing on economic survival. A key question is “How long will this last?” The best answer is perhaps “Who knows?” I expect circumstances will change. I am viewing the future in 30-day bites. We must get through this month—one day at a time—knowing abrupt battlefield decisions might be necessary.
            Businesses—big and small—are in peril. Consider restaurants, airlines, hotels and brick-and-mortar retail stores. The list is endless. Profits from your spending keep businesses, including this newspaper, in operation so workers can get paid.
Readers in our business are essential, but advertisers are the major source of income. Circulation and advertising profits support the jobs that keep our presses running to keep you informed. Our business is for you to know, especially in times of crisis. We are grateful—more than ever—for your support.
            As I sit here, I’m pondering the stealth attack on our health and our economy. I am sure you are sitting there wondering, too, how we will survive. I am confident that we will endure just as Americans did after Pearl Harbor and 9/11.
            I believe the only approach is by working together, doing what it takes and then some.    That means we must creatively support each other, even if—for the time being—it’s at a safe distance.