The coronavirus/pandemic/panic/apocalypse is upon us! There is no toilet paper on supermarket shelves. Many people are working from home to avoid contact with others. Other people are not working at all because their businesses are closed, or their clients have cancelled all work.

There are many responses to this situation. Some people and media respond with fear.

Fear happens when our security or identity is threatened. People who are extremely committed to a cause bigger than themselves or with deep faith are less affected by fear.

Fear is also about me and mine. What horrible thing can go wrong? How come they are causing us so much trouble? Look, when our ancestors had to be aware of saber tooth tigers, fear was valuable. So, how many times in the last decade have you faced a saber tooth tiger? Did the world come to an end after Y2K? Did SARS or AIDS end human life? What about the World War III we worried about that never happened? Americans rarely are in mortal danger. Fear is a zero-sum game.

When fear rules, people imagine the worst and try to succeed at the expense of others. Fear drives out rational thought.

Factfulness is the Fear, Factfulness, and Love in the Time of the Coronavirus of a book by the late Dr. Hans Rosling, with his son and daughter-in-law. I’m borrowing it to refer a more rational way to respond to the frenzy of events like coronavirus. Factfulness recognizes the world is complex. Reality almost always has more shades than black or white. All or nothing thinking is usually wrong. Us versus them is rarely accurate or useful.

There are many things we don’t know about this virus. Factfulness would advise prudence not folly. Over the next weeks we’ll learn what prudent ways we can limit risk and mitigate harm. Responsible medical people will provide updates as more is learned.

There are some things we know about the impact of the pandemic. Trillions of dollars of wealth have evaporated as stock markets went into freefall. Millions of Americans have lost major portions of their retirement. Factfulness would advise clear-headed assessment of the situation and planning for what’s next.

Love endures. Love is caring more about others than you do for yourself. Love recognizes that we’re interdependent. Love considers it wisdom that we can and do rely on others. They need us and we need them.

Individually we have no control over how quickly the virus will spread. Millions of us will get the virus. Most of us will live. We don’t control much about the virus or governmental response. We do control how we respond.

What legacy will you leave? Will people remember you as a panic spewing idiot? Or as someone who worried yourself sick or fretted yourself into a useless state? Or will you choose to be someone who bravely, deliberately spread hope, faith, encouragement and love?

We will all die. Whether my life ends tomorrow or goes for several more decades, I hope to live and be a blessing for as long as I’m alive.

What’s your choice? How will you respond to the challenges of the time of coronavirus?

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Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.

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