WHEN THE PANDEMIC IS OVER

Ten years from now when you look back at the Coronavirus Pandemic what will you say? Will your memory be recollection or reconstruction? Your accounts of what happened could begin with “It was obvious to me…” or “Everybody knew that…” or “What I did differently was…”

If you do then that is reconstruction, built partly on what happened and largely on what you learned later about what happened. On what you say you supposedly did and how you handled such an incredible crisis.

It’s hindsight bias. The belief that after something happens we foresaw that it would occur. And that what we did was more noble, wise or brave than what others did. This kind of thinking could keep us from making the changes we need to make right now while we’re still in this crisis.

In 1972 researchers asked people the likelihood of various outcomes regarding President Nixon’s upcoming trips to China and Russia. We now call those visits “historic” because they thawed decades of hostility between the U.S. and the communist nations.

About two weeks after Nixon’s visits, 71% of people recalled putting better odds on his success than they did at the time. Four months later, 81% remembered being surer Nixon would succeed than they had said beforehand. In advance, no one knew whether those trips would accomplish anything but just a few months later they supposedly did.

In 1995 one week after the O.J. Simpson verdict, 58% of people recalled predicting he would be found not guilty. A year later, 68% remembered saying he would be acquitted. But the fact is only 48% of them had said so before the verdict. After one year a 20% increase in knowledge magically appeared.

Most of us like to see ourselves in a positive light. We want to believe we’re smart and rational. We’ll be tempted to recall our actions during this Pandemic as godlier than they actually were.

Of course, the antidote for this is to actually do things now that are godly. Choosing faith over fear, worship over worry, praise over panic. To rise up to the challenge of this crisis and live out what it means to be a fully, devoted follower of Christ.

When we look back on this Pandemic what will we say to our kids and grandkids? How will we describe what it was like and the way we responded to a once in a generation challenge? Did we run in fear or did we rise in faith?

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