I. We are experiencing a crisis from a virus, a loss of freedom, and an excess of pain, fear, and guilt.
II. Diseases of the body, mind, spirit, and cultured can be cured through focusing on solving problems and acting.
- Fix your health with improved habits and practices.
- Fix your mind by learning new practical skills.
- Improve your spirit to diminish pain, fear, and guilt.
III. Heal your culture
- Be friendly and spread good cheer.
- Persuade others and never be a government informer.
- Pay attention to actions that support and oppress individual rights.
- Act with justice to support and reward the good and to condemn and punish the evil.
- Promote and exercise individual rights and self-directed action.
- Behave legally and civilly.
- Invest in businesses you support and want to see successful.
- Learn new things to solve problems.
- Take care of yourself first to create the abundance necessary to help others.
- Realize your full potential and promote the individual rights that make that realization possible.
The Nation and the World are in the midst of multiple crises. Aside from the Novel Corona Virus which threatens your life, there is a freedom crisis that threatens your livelihood and a crisis of spirit resulting from excessive fear, guilt, and pain. Each pandemic is deadly in its own way.
Activities of the recent past like grandparents enjoying an outing with their grandchildren are now forbidden externally by government edict and internally by fear of death, guilt over possibly transmitting the virus, and by the pain resulting from recognizing that such a joyful activity has now been sullied in so many ways. Americans are experiencing shortages, grocery store lines, rationing, loss of employment, destruction of savings and a background of distrust between citizens. People are being arrested for driving their cars and walking outside. When people meet, the American standard of goodwill is now shaded by fear and guilt as well.
The situation impacts everyone, and the parallels between the competing pandemics should help us to recognize that just as there can be diseases of the body, so to can there be diseases of the spirit and of the culture. Our ascendance toward normalcy, prosperity, greatness and the general joy that Americans often take for granted involves three types of healing. We must heal our bodies, our spirits and our culture. Working on any or all of these will help you return to the exceptional prosperity that has been the hallmark of the United States for centuries.
Before you even attempt to fix the culture, you have to be sure you have the strength and stamina to survive. All great positive changes start within an individual as ideas and thoughts. These ideas spread at a rate that depends on their merit and on the value that such ideas create. During this crisis we have seen individuals figure out how to produce face masks to address a short supply. Ventilators have been produced to a point of abundance by individuals who changed the focus of their businesses and factories to solve a looming problem. Activities like these—finding a problem and solving it—are the key to American greatness. Individual motivation leads to the creation of value and to the improvement of the world. While government edict can cause certain progress, it is individual initiative that is the major driving force. The best thing a government can do is to stay out of the way and protect individual rights—not restrict action and suppress innovation. The best thing an individual can do is to learn as much as you can, identify and solve problems, and act to protect yourself and to create the abundance necessary to help the other people you value.
Improve your body and mind
The first step is fixing yourself. We know that COVID-19 attacks people with other health issues. Do what you can to improve your health. Fix your body. Get sunshine exposure and fresh air. Eat healthful foods, and do what you can to heal your body and nourish your mind. Build up your health reserves as much as possible. In parallel build your knowledge and capabilities. Learning new skills will broaden your capabilities and will augment your ability to produce value. This production of value can take the form or problem solving, manufacturing, teaching, inspiring, investing, or any of a myriad of activities that make the world better. When each individual focuses on self-improvement in body and mind, our culture as a whole benefits by having people who can meet any crisis or challenge head on with good ideas and the stamina to implement them. Always be mindful of how what you learn can be applied and acted on. A practical focus prevents wasting your time on interesting but less useful information—which you cannot afford in a crisis.
Heal your spirit
The second step is healing your spirit. If you have felt depressed, disillusioned or thought things looked hopeless—to whatever degree—you are not alone. The lockdown has caused widespread depression in our culture resulting in increased suicides and domestic violence. Be sensitive to this and recognize that your friends and family are experiencing stress and depression as well. These trying times strain the limits of good manners and kindness, but if you maintain decency and remain positive you will make things easier for yourself and others. If you are afraid, recognize that it is natural to be afraid when you do not understand something or feel out of control. Do not try to fight your fear directly; it won’t work. Instead, do something constructive that gives you control of your life. Appreciate the things you have instead of focusing on things that are missing from your life. Each day ask yourself what is good about your life and your current situation. What can you make even better? What problems can you solve? Soon you will find that even in bad situations there are opportunities for self-directed action, independence, and joy.
Learning about things always makes them less frightening. If you are afraid of catching the virus or feel guilty about spreading it, wear a mask. Figure out what type of mask is best. Understand how diseases spread, and try to put the risk in perspective. How likely is it when you are not actively sneezing or coughing that you will spread the virus to others? How likely is it that you will catch a sufficient dose of the virus to become moderately or severally ill? As you learn more about your fear, your understanding grows and your fear and guilt naturally diminish.
If you are afraid about the economy or feel guilty about getting a stimulus check because you are not in great need, recognize that deeper understanding will dispel these fears as well. Remember, the government does not create wealth, it can acquire it through taxes and redistribute it, but it does not make money. Think of the stimulus as a return of some of the abundance that you paid to the government. What will you do with that abundance now that you have it back? What can you create with it? Can you make it grow into greater abundance to provide for yourself and create value for others? Being productive and effective automatically dispels fear and guilt. The pride felt from achievement and creation of value is incompatible with feelings of guilt, fear, and pain. Become a strong beacon for those around you with injured spirits. Allow your achievement and positive attitude to inspire others to create even greater abundance, further success and unparalleled joy through independent action and productive achievement.
Isolation also allows more opportunities for quiet contemplation. You get to decide if you want to pray, meditate, or just think about things. You also get to decide whether you focus on the good or the bad. Appreciation of the good is always more rewarding than dwelling on the negatives. The positive things in your life are your strengths and your sources of further strength. Focus on them, appreciate them, and allow yourself to be inspired to greater success and joy.
Heal your culture
A culture results from the combination of all individual actions and values. Certain shared values are reinforced, and inferior values and ideas are replaced by better ones. Free speech, the right to assemble, and the ability to trade and interact make this possible.
Start on a small scale. Say hello to people you meet. Even if you are wearing a mask, smile; it shows in your eyes and in your voice. A positive attitude and a friendly greeting may be all that is needed to get yourself and others through the day. Do not be taken in by the notion that citizens should view each other as threats. Interactions are far more likely to create lasting values than they are to spread disease. Recognize that the choice to wear a mask is properly an individual right and an individual choice. Do not condemn others because their choice is different from yours. A mask wearer is not a conformist coward and a non-mask wearer is not an anti-science COVID-denier. Discuss your choices with civility, respect, and tolerance. Be willing to learn and to teach.
A profoundly un-American practice has emerged and is being encouraged in our culture. That is informing on your neighbors and fellow citizens. Fear and guilt can drive people to seriously unethical behavior, and this practice is among the worst things you can do in a free society. Individuals have the right to act on their own judgement and to do what they think is necessary to survive and prosper. Bringing the force of the government down upon another person who is committing no legitimate crime is profoundly cruel, shameful and immoral. Initiation of force against another is never ethical, and informing on someone is not the same thing as reporting a robbery or mugging. Informing on others who are doing something that was perfectly legal last year at this time is wrong. Being convinced that acting a certain way is right does not mean that your ideas are universal or that you have the right to impose them on others. Discuss the issue civilly. Persuade and make your case as strongly as you can. Listen and be tolerant. But if you initiate force by turning in your fellow citizens for non-compliance with government edicts. you are behaving neither civilly nor ethically. Think of cultures in which people regularly inform on one another. Do you want that here?
You have probably noticed that there is a partisan component to some behaviors. Protestors of the lockdown are often Republicans. Government officials who enforce the strongest lockdowns tend to be Democrats. Why is this the case? Learn to dig deeper than political affiliation. The real issue is the conflict with individualism—valuing the individual—and collectivism—denying the value of the individual. Society is nothing greater than a collection of individuals, and the failure to recognize this fact is behind every dictatorship and totalitarian regime. The idea that some people must be killed, enslaved, or abused for the greater good makes any atrocity possible on any scale. Note, however, that it can be a mistake—albeit it potentially deadly one—that is behind the thinking that the greater good is justification for the destruction of some individuals in the hope of benefiting society overall. If you want to achieve greatness for yourself and America and the world—promote individual rights. Our unique success in America results directly from having limited government that protects individual rights. Where other cultures allow their citizens to act certain ways, Americans act by right . Promoting and advocating individual rights and their protection is one of the keys to greatness.
Remember that rights are not just those things specifically listed in the Constitution. The right to assemble, to free speech, to bear arms, to petition the government are important, and so are the rights to eat dinner at a restaurant with your friends and family, the right to go to the movies, the right to buy and sell things in the market, and the right to sing in the shower. Exercise your rights proudly and learn about rights so that you can defend them against attacks. Freedom is never guaranteed, and if we do not continuously defend our rights—every generation, every election, every day—they will be taken away by overzealous governments and social engineers.
In elections, remember who supported freedom and who supported oppression. We have all had a serious taste of oppression. If you want less of it, it is up to you to campaign for, vote for, support, and promote candidates who support individual rights and freedom. Note that this is not denying that COVID-19 is a threat. The type of threat it represents, however, is a threat from nature; no legislation or edict can take it away. The threats resulting from the lockdown are manmade—meaning that someone is responsible for the consequences of the lockdown. Elections are a peaceful way of holding government accountable.
In general, watching and reading news is part of being a responsible, informed citizen. However, when faced with a continuous barrage of negative COVID-19 news presented in a way to inflict maximum pain, and cause maximum fear and maximum guilt, maybe you should limit your consumption of news. When you do watch, look for information that will help you form a coherent picture of what is going on with the virus and with the lockdown. Integrate what you learn and search for problems to solve. How dangerous is the virus? Why are the consequences of the lockdown? Why does it seem politically motivated? What can you do to protect yourself against the virus and survive with the least injury? When you focus your efforts on understanding, it is less likely that you will finish watching news with a sense of drained hopelessness. Instead, you can feel inspired to action.
Fred Rogers, of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood fame, recounted how his mother told him to “look for the helpers” when confronted with a scary news story. As you watch the news, look for people who are helping and also look for people who are causing harm. What can you do about it? Praise, support, and reward the helpers. Condemn, discourage, and punish those who harm. Do not be a vigilante. Take legal action. If your rights have been compromised and you have been injured through oppression, misinformation, bad science, or propaganda—foreign or domestic—sue somebody who deserves it. Law suits are legal ways of promoting justice by punishing wrong doers and compensating victims. Demand compensation to punish and take resources and power from oppressors who have wronged you. Justice involves both punishing the guilty AND rewarding the good.
Invest wisely. Investment directs wealth toward those businesses that create the most benefit and are the most productive. Invest in the things you want to see grow and prosper. When you see noble and productive behavior in business, encourage it by investing. You will be rewarded as well, because productive businesses grow. For years we have been hearing about the death of retail stores despite their continued growth. With the advent of COVID-19, online sales have a much larger market share than they had a few months ago. Do you want or expect this to be a permanent change? You can make a difference through your purchases and through your investments.
Finally, every successful business solves some kind of problem. The COVID-19 crisis, the lockdown crisis, and the psychological and cultural crises that result have created an abundance of problems. See these problems as opportunities to find solutions. During the early stages of the pandemic, the world marveled at how rapidly the Chinese Communist government could build a hospital. In a similar period of time, the US built multiple hospitals, began production of ventilators and protective equipment, invented new ways to detect the virus, investigated cures and treatments and innovated daily to remain productive in the face of shifting information and restrictive regulations. Pure command and control gets you one hospital, less command and control gets you much more. Imagine what would result from even greater freedom to act and better protection of individual rights. Work to build that kind of world.
Remember the path to greatness begins with you. As they say on airlines “put on your own mask first before assisting someone else.” To make a better world, realize your own full potential, generate abundance, and use some of that abundance to trade with others so they can reach their full potential as individuals. Each of us has now peered into the abyss and witnessed the worst-case scenario first hand. Use that experience to energize yourself, to motivate yourself, and to prepare yourself so we never again have to experience the loss of life, the loss of freedom and the loss of direction we have experienced these last few weeks.