Callidity

By Dr. Jim Ferguson

The coronavirus crisis continues and obscures all other news such as Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and this year’s flu which has already killed 41,000 Americans. Actually, Biden is fortunate that he’s sheltered from crowds and gaffs. In some ways I feel sorry for Ole Joe, coerced into his presidential run and arguably a victim of elder abuse.

By the time you read this essay, I hope America has turned the coronavirus corner and a return to work is on the horizon. If America remains shut down, the risk of coronavirus infection may be lessened, but there soon won’t be any toilet paper or food. Dan Patrick is the lieutenant governor of Texas and 70 years old. Recently, he said he would risk coronavirus infection to save America and a future for his children. Me too.

I am thankful for the president and the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s leadership, and especially for the regular briefings. Last week I learned that America has done more coronavirus tests than South Korea. Keeping Americans informed has apparently struck a nerve because the major networks have decided they will no longer carry the president’s briefings.

The coronavirus is probably three times as infectious than influenza and perhaps more deadly. However, 99% will survive coronavirus infection, though the elderly and infirm are always at higher risk of death from such infections. It is sobering to find myself in the higher risk group because of my age. I remember some milestones of aging, like when I turned twenty-nine, because Becky remarked I was actually embarking on my thirtieth trip around the sun. And this woman considered a career in nursing!

During our fortnight of sheltering in place as part of the President’s common-sense recommendations, I’ve had more time to study this pandemic and recently discovered a connection between Italy and China. Apparently, the Italians joined the Chinese “Belt and Road” venture in early 2019 (NYT) to the consternation of the European Union. This infrastructure project was somewhat analogous to the Middle Ages “silk road” of trade routes connecting Europe to Asia. The modern-day connection resulted in 100,000 Chinese living in northern Italy and direct plane flights between Wuhan China and Milan. Now, when you consider that Italy has the oldest population in the EU and the second oldest in the world (Japan has the oldest), you begin to understand why Italy has been savaged by the coronavirus.

Recently, I acquired a new “tool,” a new word. Callidity comes from Latin callidus which means shrewd or callere which means experienced or witty. Despite what the White House press corps says, the president possesses callidity and gravitas far beyond that “murder” of crows (a flock of crows is a murder). If you’ve watched a task force conference, you know what I mean. It’s best I’m not in politics because I could not remain as composed as Trump or Vice President Pence in front of such duplicitous rabble who railed against Trump’s prescient travel ban.

My father taught me how to be a man, the concepts of honor, honesty and responsibility. He taught me how to look someone in the eye and to shake their hand with firmness. Things will be different after COVID-19. The French will no longer be kissing on the cheek (La Bise) and we won’t be shaking hands anytime soon. Trump admits to being somewhat of a “germaphobe,” but as a politician he acknowledges hand shaking is a necessary ritual. I suspect we’ll be keeping our distance for the foreseeable future and perhaps bumping elbows or making the cross with our forearms when we meet. I hope someday we will be able to go to a movie, symphony or UT football game again.

Becky is more of an optimist than me. I fancy myself a realist and a pragmatist, but not a pessimist. And though I don’t believe the Chinese Communists caused this disaster or that God has a hand in tragedy, I believe some good can come of suffering. In Paul’s most theologically organized and philosophical Letter to the Romans (5:3-5), he said suffering produces perseverance which builds character and leads to hope that does not disappoint. And since Jesus said we will have troubles in this world (John 16:33), Paul’s argument is superior to hand wringing and hopelessness.

Though this is an evolving list, I offer some optimism in these days of pandemic stress:

  1. History teaches that in times of uncertainty, many are driven upon their knees by the overwhelming conviction that their own wisdom is insufficient for that day (Abraham Lincoln). Spirituality and patriotism blossomed after 9/11, and is occurring with the coronavirus pandemic.
  2. The “busyness” of our lives has been replaced by time to connect with family and friends by phone, Zoom, Skype and the internet. I have interacted with friends all over the country and Europe.
  3. The Chinese communist government’s aspirations of hegemony is being confronted and they will be held accountable for their part in this pandemic.
  4. America will again manufacture what we need including antibiotics nor will we be dependent on China for the critical “rare earth industry.”
  5. Our national borders will be closed to illegal immigration and the sanctuary city movement must defer to the rule of law.
  6. Useless and overpriced college degrees will be challenged and increasingly replaced by less costly and more practical online education.
  7. The utterly corrupt media has been exposed.
  8. Pelosi, Schumer and their sycophant toadies have been exposed as more sympathetic to China than President Trump and the American people. Pelosi and Schumer are focused on power, party and politics instead of the country.

No rational person would welcome this pandemic, even if it destroys Trump, as many gleefully hope. Former Obama Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, recently reiterated his now infamous comment that you should “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.” That is a sick perspective and the reason such lost souls are on my prayer list.

My heart goes out to those in fear, the suffering and the dying. In these troubled times the answer is support of our leaders, adherence to the Presidential coronavirus guidelines and prayer along the lines of 2 Chronicles 7:14. If you’re not familiar with this Old Testament perspective, you should be. Look it up, then pray and…keep looking up.

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