An Age-Old Question Helps Us with COVID-19:  “What Comes First the Chicken or the Egg?”

Whether you view this question as philosophical, biological or metaphysical, never before has the answer had such tangible consequences. Today, we are faced with an invisible enemy that has the potential to kill millions of people worldwide. And as we are now seeing, everyone is at risk: from young to old; from poor to rich; from unhealthy to robust.

And in this time of uncertainty two additional questions have come to light:

What do we do to stop it?

Why should we stop it?

If you are in the group asking the former question. There is only one right answer: Everything we can. And there is only one way to stop to it: By everyone working together as one taking a unified approach as quickly and decisively as possible.

If you’re in the latter group, Why should we stop it?, your rationale is that people die and it’s all part of life. We don’t stop living — or earning a living — when people die from the flu, cardiovascular disease, cancers or even drugs, alcohol or automobile accidents.

The answer to both these questions, regardless of whether your approach is philosophical, biological, metaphysical or economic, is how you answer the original question: What comes first the Chicken or the Egg?

What do we do to stop it? Be the Chicken. Be nervous. Be cautious. And stay in your Coop. No matter what. Even if you run out of eggs, you don’t leave your coop. So, the correct answer is:  The Chicken comes first. Be the Chicken.

Why should we stop it? Why should I be prevented from going out to get my eggs? Going to work and earning enough money to buy them? Or stopping others from doing the same?

Putting aside the moral, ethical and human kindness answers, let’s focus on the economic ones. There are reasons why you “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” and you “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” The first is risk management, the second is you can’t bank on things being certain until they happen.

Are you really willing to take the risk of what might happen when you go out and buy your eggs? You get infected, get sick, infect others, and then you either recover or you die. Do you have the funds to manage this on your own? Testing, hospitalization, drugs? Tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses. You can’t pay? Then how does the hospital survive the crushing weight of its bills? How do the health care and support workers get paid? Insurance? May not cover everything, may be exhausted. And then the insurance company goes bust. And what about their employees. What about their other clients? The government backs it all up. And what is the government doing to back it all up? Borrow money. Trillions. On top of the 22 Trillion in debt it already has on the books. And who pays for that debt. We do. All of us. Taxpayers and non-taxpayers alike (think reduced services).

And the people you get sick? Loved ones, friends, co-workers, people in your community, people heading to other communities around the country, around the world … What of them? Their loved ones, friends, co-workers, and people in their communities?

We can’t bank on good things are “going to happen” if we pursue a public policy of business as usual. Business as usual will lead to our country going into cardiac arrest under the crushing weight of a health care system hemorrhaging people and money.

What we have to understand is that we are all connected, and we are all in the same situation, with the same risk factors. And, the consequences are the same for all of us, regardless of our backgrounds or our achievements to date.

Now, let me ask you again, even if you think it’s an acceptable risk for you, do you have the right to make it an acceptable risk for your loved ones, your friends, co-workers and others in your community?

Think carefully before you choose the chicken or the egg, because the wrong answer could cost you your life: Economic and otherwise.

Lyle Benjamin is an author/educator/social entrepreneur, and the Founder of the non-profit organization Planned Acts of Kindness (PlannedActs.Org) and the One Planet One People Movement. Planned Acts’ programs of clubs, books, workshops, courses, events, games, apps and activities are aligned with the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).