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Can We Measure the Value of Saving Human Lives in Dollars? Somber Calculations in a Time of Plague

In fighting Coronavirus, the precautionary principle is reasonable: we need to act so as to bring as close to zero the probability of the most extreme results. However, the precautionary principle does not point in only one direction. Closing down an entire society for a prolonged period of time is uncharted territory, with many perils. We must also bear in mind the pre-eminent importance of the common good to avoid a catastrophic social collapse.

The Strange Battle of Staying Home

My home is my battlefield, and maintaining peace and joy for my family is my fight. I cannot treat those infected by Covid-19, but I can help flatten the curve. This is my time to keep our homefires burning with gusto, as if each meal I set before my family were a punch in the teeth to the chaos caused by this deadly illness. We may be stuck at home for weeks or months, but by God we’ll have fresh sourdough bread and afternoon tea every day.

Pandemics and the Agency of Citizens

While medical experts’ job is to save lives from the coronavirus, it is the responsibility of citizens to ask and decide what makes a worthwhile life. There is more to life than mere living; our own self-respect as responsible agents, who govern ourselves under the law (human and moral), ought not be so easily jettisoned.

How to Flourish During the Coronavirus Pandemic: Research from the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard

Our confrontation with suffering and death provides an important opportunity for reflection. What is it that we value most? What relationships need forgiveness or reconciliation? How should we understand our lives and our own mortality? Both empirical data and religious traditions show that, by engaging in such interior reflection, it can be possible to grow and flourish even amidst great suffering.

Coronavirus and Shutdowns

The Coronavirus epidemic has provided us with a lesson in how bureaucracies function in a time of crisis. It has also reminded us that education is more than merely transferring information. Real education takes place when the student and the professor meet face-to-face and just talk.

Recovering Friendship

A friend is more than a form of entertainment. The utilitarian way app designers would have us pick friends off a menu reflects quite the opposite approach. Friendships are viewed as more comfortable and more disposable than Allan Bloom, C.S. Lewis, and the Talmud suggest they ought to be.

Leisure in a Time of Coronavirus

Schools are closed. Sports and music lessons are cancelled. Everyone is at home. What are you going to do? Instead of allowing coronavirus to control your life, why not plan for leisure? We can make this evil an occasion for despair, or we can choose to see it as a “severe mercy” for our benefit, our joy, and ultimately our sanctification.