Diplomatic Notes

Winning over uncertainty

One thing that has remained consistent over the past five months is that there is an absence of certainty regarding what is ahead. Initially, projections indicated that we would be closed for two to three months and then we would have returned to normal gradually over the next four to six months. The fact that we were able to contain the virus and have a period with no cases seemed to indicate that we could manage the situation and move ahead.

As reopening loomed, uncertainty began to creep in. A series of decisions by the United States made our future more uncertain than just a few weeks prior. Several states that heavily influence our economy took a drastic turn for the worse. Florida, in particular, which is like going around the corner to a neighbor’s house, reopened too soon and became the new ground zero as a COVID-19 hotbed.

Our plans and projections became more uncertain. We tepidly reopened, hoping we could weather the brewing storm by requiring negative COVID-19 tests, only to realize that the problem would not be visitors coming, it but would be our own people who were suffering from Miami/Walmart shopping withdrawals and had to get a fix before they began convulsing.

Actually, there were many other legitimate reasons our citizens traveled to Miami and South Florida, including some who needed urgent medical attention that had been postponed.

Nevertheless, what it meant was that our citizens traveled to COVID-19 ground zero and confirmed our worst fears by bringing the virus back to us and spreading it in the community like never seen before. So, lockdowns and semi-lockdowns ensued, with travel cut off between islands. We are not only back to where we were before, but in a sense, we are further back with a new level of uncertainty about the future.

Hotels that had recently reopened were forced to close. Buses that had started transporting people again were off the road and we were left with uncertainty about what the future holds.

How many cases will we end up with?

What will be the consequences?

The answers to these questions are all uncertain. We don’t know what is going to happen.

So how do we plan?

How do we move ahead in the midst of uncertainty?

There are several things I believe we need to do to deal with uncertainty:

• Keep taking inventory. Not in terms of items on a shelf but in terms of what we have to work with, what is available to us. Check our available resources. Check what’s on the way. Check who is available and projected to be available for the next few months.

• Engage in scenario planning. Because there is so much uncertainty, we need to have plans already in place for each possible scenario.

Individually, and as a country, what do we do if we don’t have a job; if we don’t have money?

What do we do if our power is turned off?

What if we can’t pay our mortgage?

What do we do if things suddenly turn around for the better? What resources are possibly available outside the country that we can access?

How do we quickly ramp up our business if the country opens in three weeks?

Bottom line is, we should have contingency plans for several possible scenarios.

• Prioritize. Determine what are the most important things to consider and establish priorities, so that when decisions have to be made, we do not have a problem distinguishing what is priority. Life and health are priority one. Going back to work is a priority, but not if you are going to die in the process. Once you establish your priorities, your decisions should be dictated by them. I have decided, for example, that in-person meetings are not a priority right now because there appears to be community spread of COVID-19. I have decided that, with few exceptions, I will do Zoom meetings.

• Find your comfort zone. There are some things in your life that have always worked for you and have kept you stable in other challenges. Go back to what you know has worked. For some, it is the old saying or should I say old song, “In times like these, you need a savior. In times like these, you need an anchor. Be very sure, be very sure your anchor holds and grips the solid rock.”

Find your rock and make sure you are anchored. For me, this song is my song. The thing that has sustained me over the years is the rock, and so I go to the rock when things are uncertain.

• Remember the word “possible”. Jesus put it this way, “All things are possible to them that believe.”

It is possible that things will get better.

It is possible that your situation will get better.

It is possible that things will work out for you even when it seems like they will not.

Continue to be hopeful, and focus on the possibilities for a better outcome because if you panic and focus on the negative possibilities, the situation will probably get worse, as you suffer from the negative thoughts in your head that eventually affect your physical and mental well-being.

In uncertain times, remember that one thing is currently certain – you are still here, and in spite of this being trying times, there is hope, and there are possibilities for a better tomorrow. Keep the faith and keep hope alive. The outcome may be uncertain on the outside, but it does not have to be uncertain on the inside. Stay safe and blessed.

• Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to pastordaveburrows@hotmail.com. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange.

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