The Great Compromise

When I first read the following words in an article by Mr. Grenny. I had to go back and read it again. In all, I think I’ve reread it at least 20-times.

Eventually, we’ll get more used to the idea of losing a couple million of our fellow citizens. We already do. We expect to lose 30,000 every year to auto accidents. It’s baked into our consciousness. We expect to lose a few hundred thousand to diseases like cancer, hearth disease, strokes, etc., that could be dramatically reduced if we took draconian measures to change some behaviors. But we’ve accepted those. We are deeply ambivalent about gun-related deaths. It’s become “normal” to lose tens of thousands to opiate-overdoses. And so on. Joseph Stalin once said, “One death is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.” We’ll be more willing to compromise with the virus when we accept a certain level of mortality as a normal statistic.
—Joseph Grenny, How to Lead a Company Through the COVID-19 Crisis and Its Aftermath, March 22, 2020.

I’ve reread it so many times because it is still hard for me to digest what he is saying. How is it we, as a society, have made the above compromises! As a society, we are “okay” with 30,000 auto accident deaths, hundreds of thousands dying of diseases and organ failures, gun violence and deaths, and deaths related to the opioid crisis.

How did we get here?

How did we get to the point of other than a quick notice of gun massacres, we move on from mass shootings after a few days even when it involves elementary school students? We continue to believe it is more important for people to be able to buy guns unfettered than any sort of common sense gun control.

How did we get to the point where it is okay to have such a large number of opioid deaths? Even as we reach a time when we are all touched by someone’s addiction and death of someone we know due to opioid addiction.

Will we get to a point where risking a million or so deaths, of possibly losing our grandmothers or mothers or grandfathers or fathers is okay? What will it take for us to compromise so many deaths so we would be able to go back to our offices, eat-out, or go see our favorites sports team live.

Will the almighty dollar, a robust economy, and record-breaking stock markets be more important than the risk of contracting COVID-19? Will this be part of the plan of recovery to allow our elderly to die alone in very sterile environments with a group of strangers? Is it possible this will be part of our plan to return to “normal” life?

Would you be willing to compromise in this way if it means life can go back to “normal”?

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