Opinion: Finding Meaning


Lessons Learned


By Skip Hellewell

Just my humble prophecy, but Easter 2020 will be remembered as the turning point for a plague of Biblical dimensions. You have to like the timing. We’ve all been on a steep learning curve, learning how to deal with the coronavirus. Taking a step back, here are five lessons that have intrigued me:

First, risk avoidance is the default impulse of civic leaders. It’s true that the coronavirus has thrust them into decision-making roles requiring considerable sophistication. But the much-cited phrase “an abundance of caution” aptly describes the common response. Despite differing conditions of risk, the regions of our country tend to get the same one-size-fits-all guidance, at great cost to our economy.

Second, looking beyond our borders, the competence of the world’s nations is illustrated by the effectiveness of their coronavirus response. We should give them all a grade when this is done. The U.S. is doing okay, but we’ll do better when we set our polarizing issues aside and learn to work together. 

Third, there is much coronavirus reporting but it’s hard—for some readers—to draw conclusions. For example, the accumulation of confirmed cases is alarming though it’s mainly the result of increased testing, which is good. Most of these patients recover within a few weeks, which is beneficial as they are believed to become immune. As immunity grows infections will decline. It would be informative to have data on just active cases as well as the growing ratio of immune people.

Fourth, the private sector best unleashes our human genius for problem-solving. We see it in many ways, but the fast-growing capacity for COVID-19 testing now exceeds our ability to make rational use of it. We can trust this unleashed genius to also deliver a vaccine solution. 

Fifth, isn’t it interesting that the global solution to slowing the coronavirus is the family? The institution is a bit battered these days, but our families, each in their home, are the final refuge against the coronavirus. If we hang together in our homes, everything will work out.

The Beautiful Wife and I have been hanging tight the last month. We keep the world at least six feet distance and sanitize our hands when venturing out. With the extra time, we’ve each started a project. She’s making a coronavirus quilt. I’m catching up on home maintenance and starting a book. I’ve been thinking about asking her to a dance, just us in the living room. On Sundays, we hold our own church meetings. It’s been a sweet experience.

There’s a final lesson we can all learn—about what is essential to life. It begins with the family, but I have new respect for the local grocery stores and the people who supply the stores. We appreciate finding the Indy in our driveway on Fridays with the local news. We’ve gotten along just fine without professional sports. I may copy Indy sports writer Frank Aronoff and go to the high school games when they resume. I miss attending our Laguna churches. I suppose this is the first time they’ve ever all been closed—and on Easter. I’m looking forward to when they reopen. There’s meaning in that.

Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ‘50s surfing trip.  He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of “Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach.”  Email:  [email protected]

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