The Corona Virus, Prudence, Folly & a Disciplined Imagination

The thinking seems to be this: It was horrible in Wuhan, it is horrible in Lombardy, and horrible in some other country nobody gives a damn about. Therefore, when it happens to my town—and it’s when, not if—it will be equally horrible everywhere. And worse than horrible, because we are not as prepared or as willing to be as draconian as the Chinese. It isn’t horrible this moment, right now, here, but because it will be horrible means it is already horrible.

That seem a fair summary? One survey found “1 In 5 Americans Expect They’ll Be Diagnosed With Coronavirus“.

None of it is right.

In Wuhan itself, the City of Doom, some 2,446 souls departed their fleshly existence earlier than expected. Google tells us the city has between 11 and 19 million, depending on whether you count the entire metro area as “the city”.

Source: Coronavirus Update V — Madness Has Arrived – William M. Briggs

The thing I’ve noticed after more than 30 years as a university chaplain is the tyranny of abstract ideas not only in academia but in society more broadly.

This make sense because, well, we educate our leaders in universities. Naturally then, whatever their profession or vocation, unless taught otherwise our leaders in church and society are as prone as their university educated peers to suffer under the tyranny of the abstract. Where I’m going with this is here.

We don’t have discipline over our imaginations. This makes us exceptionally vulnerable to the kind of fear and anxiety we’re seeing now.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prudent. It does mean, however, that we may confuse prudence with folly or recklessness. Without a disciplined imagination we are likely to think the best way to save the village is to bomb it.