COVID-19 is a Drill

by Lucilius Stoicorum April 21, 2020

COVID-19 is a Drill

In this blog, we will try and explain why we should look at COVID-19 as a drill. A drill that prepares us for a possible worse scenario (that we hope never comes). 

Once again this is inspired by Seneca’s “Letters from a Stoic”.

In letter XVIII Seneca writes “If you want a man to keep his head when the crisis comes you must give him some training before it comes. This was the aim of the men who once every month pretended they were poor, bringing themselves face to face with want, to prevent their ever being terrified by a situation which they frequently rehearsed.”

Even though he wrote that two thousand years ago it feels quite relevant today and here is why.

If there is anything, we should all know by now from the coronavirus outbreak it's how fragile our way of life is. We found out in a matter of weeks how dependent on others we are. Up until then, we thought of ourselves as strong and independent individuals when in fact we have now come to the realisation that we are far from it.

We have become accustomed to such a convenient way of life that no other society in known history has. Except maybe during the Roman Empire and maybe that is why we should listen to the philosophers/bright-minds of the times.

We believed nothing could get in our way. Until it did at the end of 2019.

A virus outbreak was just one of the warnings we have been getting from scientist and experts. The bright-minds of our times. But did we listen? You can answer that question for yourselves.

Since the beginning of the outbreak and during the weeks of quarantine I started thinking more often of my grandmother. She passed away last year. She died in her house where she lived alone for decades since my grandad had passed away. I think of her these days because she was technically self-isolating for so many years. We were occasionally visiting every second weekend but the rest of the time she was pretty much on her own. 

In fact, life in Eastern Europe's villages is like that. A lot of lonely people living on both minimum resources and social interaction.

She had her garden to grow fruits and vegetables and some animals to provide her with food. She only used the local store for buying bread, citrus fruits, and the occasional beer. Things that her farmyard could not provide for her. She even made her own wine.

Money was primarily used for paying bills and not much more. One reason is that the pensions in Bulgaria (where she is from) are close to nothing so she could not afford much in the first place. Another reason was that she learned, voluntary or not, how to live with just enough.

I am not saying that she lived the greatest life and we should all live like that. What I am trying to say is that because of the way she lived, this situation today, would not have made much of a difference in her life, because she was self-sufficient. More self-sufficient that I ever was and maybe ever will.

Maybe we could look at this last couple of months and to the foreseeable few as a lesson on how to live with less so that is enough for us. Then again history shows how short is our memory and how quickly we forget.

The scariest part is that in two years’ time when we will have the vaccine and we are then hugging each other, shaking hands and the economy will start growing again we will completely forget about the fragility of it all. The consumerism will prevail again and will thrive with new strength while erasing our memory and dulling our survival instincts and skills.

So here is our lesson or more of a Seneca’s lesson. Let us not forget to face scarcity every now and then. Keep reminding yourselves ever so often about the year 2020 and think of it as a drill for the next crisis, because the next one might be even worse.

Thank you for your time and don't forget: It is our duty to leave this world a better place than we found it in.





Lucilius Stoicorum
Lucilius Stoicorum

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