Updated: May 3
I’m a Product of My Past
I recall the sound of gravel crunching beneath my feet as I approached the gates to Dachau, the concentration camp just outside of Munich. A stark reminder of humanity’s past. I recall wondering if the Jewish people, walking the very same path, noticed the sound of crunching gravel. Such a curious thought.
Just beyond the main entrance I am confronted with an oppressive feeling from the sheer size of the compound. I forced my gaze back to the right and continued to the administration building. If you have read about concentration camps you know this building. It is where the true dehumanizing began. Stripped of all clothing. Heads shaved. A mass of naked bodies herded into a room for cold showers. A systematic stripping of the individual. This is not what had the greatest impact on me.
These rooms have been converted to a museum with displays explaining what occurred within each. Toward the exit there is a map of the German Empire. The location of every concentration and extermination camp throughout the Third Reich is noted. It was a stark confrontation with an undeniable truth. One man did not kill six million jews.
My tour of Dachau did not end there. I would spend over an hour walking. I recall a quonset hut housing facility with multi-layered bunks crammed together. The gas chamber, tucked far away in the corner of the compound, on the other side of a depressed canal lined on both sides with large fencing and barbed wire. Adjacent to the gas chamber is a furnace room, adorned on the top by a smoke stack you've read about or seen in pictures.
On multiple occasions, as I walked this expansive compound, I fought back tears while trying to answer one question. How can thousands of people be coerced into such wanton depravity of human life?
It Comes Down To Choosing One Question
I can not change the impact of my past. I can’t erase an event which so greatly influences me today, as if it was never experienced.
Life is to be cherished. This is the lens through which I view important decisions. It is my primary influence as a participant in the coronavirus pandemic. It is why I have anxiety for my country. It is why I am squarely on one side of a fine line, currently being debated with voracity across our country.
This line is straddled by two questions. On one side, the question comes primarily from politicians. On the other side is a different question posed by contagious disease experts.
What is the process to get the economy back up and running?
What is the process to successfully defeat this virus?
Our politicians are focused on a four to six month timeline. Politicians are keenly aware of an ever present truth. If the economy remains in a recession when an election occurs, they will be out of a job.
This is not to imply our politicians are depraved. For the most part they have done the right thing since March. Confronted with massive loss of life scenarios, our political leaders understood drastic measures had to be implemented. The steps undertaken to basically hijack our economy have been largely effective. We are seeing the result our scientists predicted. The rate of infections have decreased.
Some of our political leaders believe we are ready to return to work now, lifting restrictions this very weekend. Most others believe we will be ready within weeks.
The disease experts mention a twelve to eighteen month timeline. In every article these scientists do not advocate the extreme measure of remaining under the current restrictions for a whole year. Our scientists acknowledge a need to find a balance where society returns to work.
This is where the real debate appears to fall. Not only the measures we need to implement before we reopen our economy, but our current readiness to implement these measures.
Across the board our scientists emphatically believe we are not yet ready.
We Do Not Serve The Economy
The economy is supposed to serve us.
Why did I begin this article with a story about the holocaust? You might be wondering how that dark period in human history can possibly relate to our current situation. Obviously it does not compare. Yet I believe the lesson of human depravity is relevant. It is relevant to remain aware when we might be crossing a line.
My business model relies upon customers with disposable income. It is reliant upon economic prosperity. I need our economy to remain functional in the short term, and more importantly in relation to the continued success of my business, I need our economy to come out of this recession by early next year.
The hard truth for me is that I have only so much control. At this point in time the only real control I have is founded within my moral compass. I can control what I believe. I place the value of human life above economic prosperity. Human life outweighs the success of my business.
What Is The Process to Defeat This Virus?
Our scientists do not want us to implement either extreme. They don’t want us to remain in complete lockdown. Nor do they want us to completely reopen our society as if this never occurred. They believe this other extreme would bring our healthcare system to its knees, and ironically, our economy. Much as remaining in complete lockdown would also bring our economy to its knees.
If we follow the advice of our scientists it will mean more sacrifices. It will mean the path of returning to economic prosperity will be pushed back even further.
It is a difficult decision. Neither path has a clearly defined outcome. As a result, intelligent people can make sound cases to pursue multiple courses of action. Hence the dilemma. Which brings us to the question.
It is my belief that whatever course of action we as a society chose, it should be based upon answers derived from the right question.
My moral compass leads me to side with the question asked, rather than a specific course of action. I am squarely on the side of placing human life above economic prosperity. To find a balance where we can keep the economy functional while saving lives. I don’t know what that balance is. But I do know what question we should ask in order to achieve that balance.