By: Roy Douglas Malonson
HOUSTON — Whether you believe the pandemic is a “sign of the times” that either the Bible, Koran or Nostradamus predicted, the shakeup felt by all has rocked the Earth to its epicenter. Many are scratching their heads and cursing the ground we are walking upon asking “why,” while others are falling to their knees praying for a better tomorrow and a solution. People are poor, sick, unemployed and desperate, and it appears that conditions, like spirits, are declining every day.
To better grasp what’s currently going on, you should understand there are six elements that control the world, and the domino effect of occurrences that can happen when they’re disturbed.
What are the elements?
Health, economy, politics, religion, education and the media.
To illustrate these principals, we show the effects of the disturbance of the elements in relation to the current global health crisis.
COVID-19 shut down America’s everyday operations when in March, governors and other elected officials scrambled to implement statewide guidelines to protect its residents from what was then a novel (new) virus. Horrifying scenes were playing out in emergency rooms across the globe with an overflow of people dying in hallways, packed ICU beds and bodies being stacked in big rigs to be hauled off to morgues. The virus was swift and deadly, with African Americans being hit hardest and dying at disproportionately higher rates, primarily due to congested inner-city or impoverished conditions and lack of health care.
President Donald Trump downplayed the virus, mocked the Chinese he blamed as the source of it, attacked reporters during press conferences who dared to question his plans on handling it, and told Americans that masks were for the weak. All along, he withheld the fact that he knew months before the general public that the deadly virus had reached America, a revelation that was made public in an interview with veteran journalist Bob Woodward.
That withholding of information could have possibly contributed to the more than 300,000 deaths in America, to date, with more than 25,000 of them in Texas.
Sick people can’t work, and dead folks can’t pay bills. And likewise, when a highly contagious, airborne disease is plaguing the globe, businesses must shutter their doors.
According to reports, the COVID-19 pandemic and associated closures created a crisis for all workers, but the impact was greater for women, Blacks and Hispanics, lower-wage earners, and those with less education. In December 2019, women held more nonfarm payroll jobs than men for the first time during a period of job growth, but by May 2020, that was all reversed, due in part to job losses in the restaurant, leisure and hospitality industry, where women account for 53 percent of workers.
Meanwhile, President Trump spent his days challenging Centers for Disease Control experts and the advice of his own Coronavirus Task Force, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, on mask mandates and social distancing guidelines while holding campaign rallies with people packed in public venues, which leads us to our next element.
There is evidence that the pandemic affected public approval of leaders around the world, depending on how those leaders responded to the virus. Due to their swift action, government approval ratings rose in Italy, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. And in the U.S., state governors like New York’s Andrew Cuomo, North Carolina’s Roy Cooper, and Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan saw an increase in approval ratings, but President Trump’s mismanagement of the coronavirus ultimately cost him re-election.
To many, it appeared Trump was out for his own self-interests, rather than the protection of the people. And it’s not like he hadn’t been warned beforehand.
During a 2014 speech, then-President Barack Obama warned about the need for the U.S. to cast aside partisan differences to prepare for an upcoming pandemic.
“We have to put in place an infrastructure, not just at home but also globally. That allows us to see it quickly, isolate it quickly, respond to it quickly,” he said in a briefing. “So that if and when a new strain of flu, like the Spanish flu, crops up, five years or a decade from now – we’ve made the investment – and we’re further along to be able to catch it.”
After successfully dealing with the Ebola – which began in West Africa – and H1N1, Obama called for more preparedness to deal with something possibly “airborne in transmission” that could head our way. His prediction was correct. Coronavirus has proven to be way more deadly than any epidemic seen in recent history.
But the country under the Trump Administration did not rally together to lead in the fight. COVID-19 seemingly became a political power struggle between the “haves and the have-nots,” the Democrats and the Republicans, and the fight over election poll procedures such as the drive-thru polling locations in Harris County, a safe and successful initiative led by former Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins.
The Coronavirus has tested the Faith and strength of congregations as many pastors, priests, reverends and other Faith leaders have died from the disease. Prayers have now been focused on health of family and friends, and money to pay bills as the world fights to survive.
According to a Gallup report, that the halting of in-person worship “is one of the most significant sudden disruptions in the practice of religion in U.S. history.”
Many churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples are now offering worship services, Sunday School and other programs through livestreams. The churches have also served as centers for dispatching life-saving resources, including disinfection supplies, face shields, masks and gloves, in addition to serving as free COVID-19 testing sites.
“Online Giving” has replaced the traditional collection plates with virtual methods of tithing, including CashApps, Quick Pay, Zelle, etc.
Mostly all K-12 students in the U.S. are currently missing face-to-face instruction due to COVID-19. While many parents and educators are worried about protecting their kids from the virus, they remain somewhat helpless as families in underserved communities suffer from the digital divide.
The shift is harming all involved as teachers scramble to adapt content for online platforms, parents juggle work responsibilities (if not enduring unemployment) with caring for and educating their own children, and students face isolation, anxiety and fears of an uncertain future while grades drastically slip. The Houston Independent School District (HISD) — the state’s largest school system — alarmingly confirmed that 42% of its students failed one or more classes in the first grading period of the fall as students struggled to adjust to online learning forced by the pandemic.
And no matter how much finger-pointing and “fake media” claims President Trump has made, mass media continues to be the up-to-the-minute breaking news superhighway between life, death and politics as we know it.
According to Nielsen ratings, 24-hour cable news networks like CNN, MSNBC and Fox News saw their biggest viewership in recent years, and social media remained a dominant force with helping to promote health guidelines, like Houston’s “Mask Up” campaign, in addition to “Souls to the Polls” pushes.
2020 has seen widespread unrest, from social injustice, police brutality and unprecedented death tolls, and a “disturbance of the six elements” remain front and center. One may ask, what caused the shift of the elements this cycle? Could it be a day in November 2016 when a self-absorbed “Celebrity Apprentice” real estate mogul became leader of the free world? Think about it.