Coronavirus: How To Think About Uncertainty

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This past week, we all saw an avalanche of news coverage about the coronavirus.

The only consensus from these stories is that much is unknown. Will the virus spread linearly or exponentially? Will it die off after the weather warms up or come back every year? The truth is…no one knows.

How do you prepare for something that’s outside of your control? Unfortunately…you can’t.

Times like these happen. And they serve as an important reminder: we find uncertainty so disconcerting because it is so rarefor us.

The uncertainty we feel now is relatively benign compared to the uncertainty often felt by the poorest half of the world.

So far, the coronavirus has been responsible for ~3,500 deaths. Compare that to the annual death rate of malaria: ~500,000. Here’s a quick graph to help you visualize that difference:

300-600 million people suffer from malaria each year and 40% of the world lives in malaria-risk areas. The uncertainty that they feel from malaria must far outweigh the temporary uncertainty we feel from the coronavirus.

And malaria is only one of many things that affect the poorest half of the world. They also have sanitation issues, government instability, the list goes on..

This is a rare opportunity to give thanks. We can give thanks that we often are not subject to uncertainty. And we can also give thanks for the opportunity to empathize with our global neighbors. For this brief moment, we can feel a fraction of what they feel far more often.

And maybe…just maybe…the coronavirus might inject you with a passion to serve the poorest people in the world on the worst day of their lives. Start here.