Peace by Common Enemy

I have long believed that the best chance for world peace would be to have a common enemy. Originally, I imagined that common enemy could come in the form of a movie-like alien invasion or some other unimaginable kind of extraterrestrial threat. I even have said without thinking too deeply about the implications that I might not mind if a few of the more powerful governments in the world came together and made some common enemy up for the sake of peace, but that is probably a pretty controversial take.

More recently, I came to think that the climate crisis might gradually develop into humanity’s existential common enemy, but the very gradual nature of the crisis and its impacts serve somewhat as an impediment towards getting most or all of the world to prioritize the issue at the same time any time in the near-term with absolute focus and urgency as we have already seen to some early degree.

Over the the last couple of months, the first of humanity’s common enemies in my lifetime has introduced itself in a form that many could have predicted but for which we mostly were unprepared, and the world is now fighting that common enemy together, as best as we can.

The unexpected irony of this common enemy is that the more we stay apart, the slower it will kill, but the more we work together, the faster it will die. This dilemma presents an extremely difficult challenge, but we as humanity have never been better prepared to face it, and though it will not go without doing tragic damage first, when we do beat it, we should be better for it.

Other common enemies will inevitably arise whether they are extraterrestrial, environmental, or similar to this one only more viral and deadly. My hope is that because of this one we will be more proactive in preparing for the next one(s). It is amazing to see the world working together against a common enemy, and we should do the same in anticipation of things like massive asteroids and natural disasters which can potentially be far more deadly far more quickly than this pandemic has been to date, not to suggest it is anywhere near done.

Because of the rift developing between the US & China and the inevitability that some countries will handle this better than others and thus be more dangerous to re-engage with as uncrossable borders eventually re-open, I am skeptical that this common enemy will be the one to bring meaningfully more peace to the world. Still, I am seeing glimpses of promise; Republicans and Democrats coming together to pass bipartisan policies, scientists in different countries with different languages working together to find treatments, and Chinese billionaires sending the US resources to help in the battle ahead.

Separate from this subject, I cannot stress enough how important I believe it is for people to remain responsible for the next couple of weeks in particular as we have not yet seen the fallout of the peak pre-social distancing spread in terms of the number of hospitalizations and deaths that lag behind. Moreover, it is important to remember that the accelerating number of confirmed cases in The United States has almost nothing to do with the actual number of people currently infected or the actual rate of spread and almost everything to do with the accelerating number of people being tested. We have almost no idea how many people in the US actually have the virus but while there is still so much unknown, so much more will be known soon, as in a matter of weeks. While I am trying to choose optimism for the subjects of my writing for the reasons I wrote about earlier this week, I must repeat caution for the purpose of reminding myself and others to remain as responsible as possible in the near-term. Some people may have better ideas than others but no one truly knows how all of this is going to play out. Be responsible and be safe. Soon enough, hindsight will be 2020.