The Editor’s Desk: Hindsight is wonderful

Let’s not Monday morning quarterback the coronavirus pandemic while the game is still being played

Monday morning quarterback. Hindsight is 20/20. Seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s easy to be wise after the event.

There’s a reason these phrases exist. It is fairly easy to look back on an event or decision after the fact and — with the benefit of the passage of time — see how things panned out, then point to what could or should have been done instead to produce a different, usually better, outcome.

The trouble is that those events and decisions play out in the here and now. A disaster unfolding in real time demands action immediately, not in six weeks or six months or a year, when you can really get a handle on things. A government decision made now might have unintended repercussions down the road, but they aren’t always apparent, or predictable, when the decision is made.

Take the Treaty of Versailles, which ended the state of war between the allied powers and Germany after World War I. If history is written by the victors, then that goes in spades for peace treaties, and in the immediate aftermath of the war the Allied powers weren’t particularly inclined to look at possible consequences. “We’re going to squeeze the German lemon until the pips squeak,” said one British politician, speaking of what the treaty was meant to accomplish, and the phrase was eagerly taken up, which doesn’t suggest that many people were prepared to put up their hand and say “You know, we might want to think this through a bit more carefully.”

You can’t draw a straight line between the Treaty of Versailles – the rise of Hitler/Nazism – World War II, but the treaty didn’t exactly help in stopping that trajectory; something that can clearly be seen with the benefit of hindsight. Which brings us to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increasing number of people who are questioning many of the measures taken both to combat it and to prevent its spread.

The whole pandemic has been little more than a tempest in a teapot, is their conclusion, as they point to the fact that “only” 321,000 people worldwide are reported to have died from COVID-19 (as per the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronovirus Resource Center, May 19, 2020). Look how many people died of the Spanish Flu in 1919 (50 to 100 million), or the Black Death (bubonic plague) around 1350 (200 million), or the smallpox pandemic of 1520 (56 million)! We’re overreacting!

Comparing the deaths thus far from COVID-19 (which are probably under-reported in many countries) with the death toll from past pandemics isn’t quite the winning argument its proponents think it is. For one thing, no one today is dying from the Black Death in 1350 or the Spanish Flu from 1919; those pandemics are over, whereas COVID-19 is still very much with us.

And when the dust has settled on COVID-19 (as it will one day), and the final reckoning is made, who is to say what the numbers might have been if lockdowns, quarantines, closing businesses, physical distancing, and all the other precautions had not been taken? If, when the coronavirus first reared its head, governments has simply stayed status quo, letting people go on with their lives, how many people would have died? A few thousand more? Tens of thousands more? Millions more? We’ll probably never know, although it’s interesting to note that jurisdictions that brought in preventive/protective measures early and fast have, for the most part, done much better than those that didn’t.

Those measures were taken in the moment, as reaction to something unfolding in real time, and history will be the judge as to who was right and who was wrong. In the meantime, let’s not start Monday morning quarterbacking while the game has barely started.



editorial@accjournal.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Columnist

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Two new COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health

The total number of Interior Health cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 522

Greens, Liberals, NDP field Fraser-Nicola candidates ahead of October election

Incumbent Jackie Tegart has two opposing candidates after snap election called Monday

Work has started on 20 units of seniors’ housing in Clinton

Much-delayed project has been in the works for almost a decade

Cache Creek firefighters plan bigger, better Halloween fireworks

‘With so much uncertainty in the world it’s nice to know that one community event is staying intact’

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Victoria-area RCMP locate high-risk sex offender thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

Most Read