I’ve aimed to keep my coronavirus-related posts on the light-hearted side. There’s plenty of gloom and doom without my adding to it. I rarely watch the news anymore and just go to a few, trusted sources for my updates.
One of those is the Worldometer. This is a nifty site that simply provides raw data without people chiming in to comment on what it means. What a relief! I’d been checking their coronavirus page periodically, when I decided to check out the other world data. I thought it would be a fun exercise.
I was wrong.
There IS some fun information:
- Babies born this year (well over 33 million already)
- Bicycles produced this year (more than 36 million–guess all those new babies will have bicycles)
- Books published this year (nearly 650,000 already–phew!)
- Emails sent in ONE day (nearly 140 BILLION by lunchtime on a Saturday)
But then I scrolled down to categories like food, water, and health. And suddenly the not quite 30,000 deaths (as of 3/28/2020) from coronavirus took on a new reality when I considered the following:
- 16,300+ people died of hunger on Saturday alone
- 200,000+ people have died from water-bourne illnesses this year
- 116,500+ have died of the flu this year
- 1.2 million have died as a result of smoking
- 600,000 from alcohol-related causes
- 257,000+ have committed suicide
- 323,500+ have been killed in car accidents
- And there have been 10.2 million abortions in the first three months of 2020
I am in no way suggesting that we take coronavirus lightly. I’m glad we’re finally taking the spread of disease seriously. I’ve been a serious hand-washer for years. But I look at what we’ve been willing to sacrifice to save lives and I have to wonder, why has it taken us so long?
We’re willing to work remotely, teach our children at home, stop going to church, nearly shut down our economy, and completely alter the way we live. And I’m sure this is saving lives. But what are we willing to sacrifice to feed the 842 million people who are currently undernourished? To supply clean water for the 802 million people who don’t have access to it? To support and help the millions of women who feel their only option is abortion? (I’m not trying to start a pro-life or pro-choice argument here–I hope we can ALL agree that helping women never to have to make such a decision is a GOOD thing.)
I’ve searched my own heart. And I’m afraid my reason for giving more attention to coronavirus than to any of these other issues is that I’m not going to catch hunger, or lack of access to water. I’m not planning to start smoking cigarettes or drinking until I have cirrhosis. I’m not going to infect someone I love with an unplanned pregnancy by failing to wash my hands or keep my distance.
Friends. This is not a light-hearted moment. This is me pondering what I’m willing to sacrifice even after this pandemic is over. When we’re back to hugging and shaking hands. When the economy has recovered. When the kids are back in school and we’re having too many meetings at work will I pause to consider the pandemics that aren’t quite so obvious? And if–when–I do, what sacrifices will I make?