Showing posts from March, 2020

Should economics trump healthcare in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

An Ethical Musings’ reader sent me these comments: … which gets me to the question I’m struggling with. Saving lives is a worthy ethical objective. I’ve done my own math on “flattening the curve”, and slowing the spread of the virus could indeed save hundreds of thousands of lives (or more). Absent a vaccine, a large percentage of Americans will inevitably contract the virus even in a slowly spreading pandemic, but the healthcare system would have a chance at treating them as they present instead of the Italian scenario where people who could be saved by treatment are dying because no treatment is available. That’s the scenario where the mortality rate is 5-10% instead of the 1% that we’ve seen so far in the U.S. On the other hand, shutting down the economy indefinitely has its own costs. Perhaps not life-and-death, but the costs are real in the sense of massive unemployment, loss of employer-provided benefits such as healthcare (a feedback loop?), etc. Also, is on 2009 the p

Hope strong enough for any pandemic

Today’s gospel reading that tells the story of Jesus raising a dead man seems especially timely during the COVID-19 pandemic. [1] Morton Kelsey was an Episcopal priest, psychologist, and professor whose work focused on the spiritual life. In his book, The Other Side of Silence , he recounts an incident that occurred after he had preached for two consecutive Sundays on the story of Lazarus. Kelsey began his sermons by reminding his congregation that Jesus taught primarily by telling stories and parables. He then interpreted John 11 as a story that Jesus had told rather than as a factual narrative of Jesus literally restoring a dead Lazarus to life. [2] More than a century of oral transmission that crossed several generations, at least two cultures, and two languages can help to explain the conflation of a teaching story with actual historical people. A young man whom Fr. Kelsey had been counseling – unsuccessfully - heard the sermons and, at his next counseling session recou

How will a virtuous person respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Predation – one species propagating and surviving at the expense of one or more other species – is widespread on earth. COVID-19 in attacking humans is doing exactly what viruses and other predators do: spreading its genes at the incidental expense of other species. In the case of COVID-19, human attention has focused on the virus because our species was previously unaware of it and we are the virus’ primary victim. Initially identified in humans in Wuhan, China, the virus has spread and now become a global pandemic. How will a virtuous person respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19)? First, a virtuous person will respond courageously, not yielding to worry, fear or panic. The person will take appropriate and recommended precautions, e.g., frequent hand washing and staying three feet or further from infected persons. Then the person will relax. Having taken all recommend precautions, worrying about COVID-19 will only sap one’s strength, erode one’s health and produce other negative e

Lent and our need for reconciliation

A couple, married or otherwise, who split up when they have one or more children together is rarely simple. If both want a role in the child(ren)’s life, two persons now going their individual ways must find a means to co-parent and to communicate. Otherwise, even when divorce is obviously the best choice for all involved, the child(ren) will most likely enter adulthood with significantly greater challenges (if not handicaps) and deeper emotional scars. For about a year and a half, I’ve volunteered as a mediator at the Mediation Center of the Pacific (MCP). Most of the cases that I mediate involve domestic situations: a parent wanting to establish or change timesharing arrangements (what used to be called visitation, but is more appropriately labelled timesharing since both parties are the child(ren)’s parents), custody of the children, division of marital assets/debts in case of a divorce, etc. Although mediation is not therapy, many pastoral counseling skills (e.g., active, em