Turning the Corner
In the midst of the current pandemic crisis, most of us feel both anxiety and sorrow because of the tragic fall-out. We wonder what will happen next…how we will cope…what is the way forward?
As a marketer, it is my job to frame messaging that creates understanding and motivates action. This blog is an endeavor to provide some insight that may help us overcome fear or anger when answers aren’t immediately forthcoming and help us direct our energies toward turning the corner on this crisis. Thanks for taking a few minutes with me to consider a paradigm for doing this that includes business, government and community—and accesses hidden resources within us.
Let’s begin with business. Business is making an important difference in this crisis.
- 16-pharmaceutical firms as reported in STAT news—AbbVie, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb, Evotec, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, KSQ Therapeutics, Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi, Takeda, and Vir Biotechnology—are partnering with the National Institute of Health under the leadership of Francis Collins, the NIH director, to develop a vaccine. The partnership, Accelerating Covid-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines, or ACTIV, is focused on standardizing research between federally funded researchers and drug companies, and prioritizing research into drugs and vaccines that have high near-term potential.1
- 3M teams are working 24/7 to manufacture and deliver 35 million N95 respirator masks. The firm is bringing in another 163 million in the next three months from its manufacturing plants overseas.2
- Essential businesses remain open and keep providing food and other necessities.
- Delivery service firms, from UPS to FedEX to Lyft to individual restaurant owners, have been bringing groceries and other needed resources to homes everywhere with increased frequency.
- Zoom, Google Hangout, Skype, Microsoft Teams, and Apple Facetime have all been helping people live-stream, conference and cope.
But just in the last few weeks, we’ve started to see the economic fallout and the impact on business and individuals. All the gains in employment of the last ten years have been wiped out, with some 22 million losing their jobs and unemployment at 15-16% of the workforce.3
Small businesses represent some 49.2% of the economy in the United States.4 That is both multi-person firms as well as gig talent. Many of these businesses are able to keep working from home, but many are in danger of going out of business because revenue has dried up. A number of corporate giants in specific market sectors have also been severely impacted, like the airlines industry, with flight bookings nearly at a standstill.
If business and the free market system can’t alone provide a solution, we turn next to government for support.
Interventional benefits, like Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, Unemployment and Disability Insurance, and stimulus funds, are all important parts of maintaining the public good. And we need leaders with the gifting of governance to help us in this time of unprecedented challenge.
Much has been put in place by state governors and local officials as well as the federal government. The stay-at-home orders have taken the curve down on the rising number of COVID-19 cases and related fatalities. FEMA is working hard to distribute much needed protection equipment to medical facilities and highly affected areas. The Paycheck Protection Program is welcomed relief, but the funding of $349 billion has already run out and many businesses don’t know if they will receive funds.5
There is a push by some to re-start the economy now, yet the infrastructure is not in place to provide broad testing, track infection patterns, or relieve the medical community—who are under great duress because of the lack of protection equipment and the scale of cases.
But the government doesn’t have unlimited resources. What happens if the government faces an economy that is slow to recover and as an institution it has exhausted its available cash? Go into further debt? Just print money?
We have to again look for other resources—this time, in the community.
And this is undoubtedly the largest source for our societal and global well-being. People coming together—family member to family member, friend to friend, in towns and cities everywhere—to care for one another as neighbors.
Many of us are familiar with the story of The Good Samaritan, told by Jesus, that asks the question, “Who is my neighbor?” A man was attacked by robbers on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho and left for dead. Religious leaders passed by and only a Samaritan—a stranger and cultural outsider—stopped to care for the man.
Perhaps the greatest example right now of this story being lived out is through those on the frontlines, particularly the medical community. At great risk to themselves, they are providing care under very trying, life-threatening conditions…care to those whose health has been cut out from under them and who now need someone to pick them up and carry them.
Others of us can find ways within the stay-at-home orders to also reflect this behavior, and reach out beyond our own well-being to familiar and unfamiliar “neighbors.” We can check in on others to see if they are in need, and we can find ways to work with them so that no one is left behind on the road.
But where does the strength to do this come from? If I may suggest, Jesus again points the way when he says, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” Of course, there are many interpretations of what that might mean, but I’m going to focus on the two parts of this phrase—the “Kingdom of God” and “within you” to draw out meaning.
The Kingdom of God is a phrase used from antiquity that suggests a state of well-being where things are in harmony—where tensions are resolved, inequities are righted, relationships are life-giving. It arises out of an invisible place hidden from sight within the individual. God chooses to work from within members of this community to inspire, motivate and guide them to collaborate. And it is not just one individual gifting that is needed—teaching, governing, composing, engineering, farming, doctoring, nursing, entertaining—but all the gifts combined. This is the true power of this community…the power of sharing…the power of bringing what I have and seeing it multiply for good.
When we come together in this mindset, fear retreats and hope wins the day. Love heals the brokenhearted. Mercy brings a new attentiveness to all those involved and stands guard to secure justice for each one. And it is in this context—where paychecks are being shared, rents are being covered together, emergencies are resolved by all involved—that a new way forward is discovered.
On our currency is printed the phrase, “In God We Trust.” This is the time to lean into faith and let out the gifting within you—whether applied in business, government or community—to care for your neighbor and together turn the corner to discover a next hope-filled “normal.”
Thanks for considering.
1- NIH partnership with business. https://www.statnews.com/2020/04/17/nih-partners-with-16-drug-companies-in-hopes-of-accelerating-covid-19-treatments-and-vaccines/
2- MOVE blog on 3M and N95 https://movecommunications.com/3m-in-full-motion/
3- Fortune article on unemployment rise https://fortune.com/2020/04/16/us-unemployment-rate-numbers-claims-this-week-total/
4- Magazine on small business impact https://www.inc.com/jared-hecht/are-small-businesses-really-the-backbone-of-the-economy.html
5- CNBC article on PPP status https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/17/small-businesses-await-checks-clarity-as-ppp-loan-program-runs-dry.html