Since the last time I wrote, the world changed. As Americans and Iowans, we have experienced events that jarred our lives. Many of our friends and fellow Iowans have been drastically impacted economically by the efforts to contain the Coronavirus, and our busy lives have suddenly slowed dramatically. In the events of recent weeks there can be found challenges to our character personally and as citizens, but also opportunities to show who we are as friends, family members and neighbors. The sudden reality of combatting the Coronavirus is also a test of our state and national character, and for many an opportunity to grow in their faith.

America is a place that moves. Americans are not known for taking things easy. Our national character is about working hard and playing hard. We all live very busy lives and operate on tight schedules. Suddenly, the necessity of flattening the curve of the Coronavirus to protect our most vulnerable citizens and not overwhelm the health care system, became our top priority almost overnight. To slow the spread of the virus, many restaurants and bars owned by friends and neighbors were shut down, along with fitness centers, movie theatres, hair salons and many others. Children were sent home from school and universities closed. In this effort we have seen shared sacrifice and selfless acts to help others.

Many of our friends and neighbors are deeply concerned for their future. Small business owners wonder if they will survive and how they will pay the bills, while workers face an uncertain future. Health care workers on the front lines work tirelessly to help others, with some facing a shortage of personal protective equipment. Truckers work zealously to move the goods and equipment needed to provide for our citizens and their safety. Citizens respond by identifying needs in their communities and work to meet those needs.  Government leaders and state and national agencies have mobilized to do all they can to provide the necessary assistance to weather the storm and ultimately emerge stronger than before.

Amidst the challenges and difficulties, come opportunities. Many parents suddenly have more time to spend with their children; to read, play games, take walks and have family devotionals. In this time of sudden pause, we can talk more and listen closely to one another. As individuals, we have more time for exercise, reading, catching up on the To-Do list, helping our neighbors and personal growth in our faith. We all have the opportunity during this unexpected moment to take stock of ourselves and evaluate how we can do more to leave our communities, state and nation better than we found them. Within the challenge currently before us, is the opportunity to become better than we’ve ever been.

We must pray for our elected leaders as they make difficult decisions that have profound consequences in a myriad of ways. While working to slow the spread and save lives, our leaders must also weigh the profound economic consequences for our citizens. They must balance the need to save lives with the reality that the cure could be worse than the disease if the impact to our economy cannot be mitigated. I trust that they will make the right decisions.

Now is not the time for elected leaders of either party to play politics. Now is the time to pass the federal legislation necessary to ease the pain to our economy, our businesses big and small, and our workers. The cost will be massive and into the trillions of dollars; but the cost will be far higher if the economic impact is not lessened through appropriate government action focused on the issues at hand. I am confident our leaders will get it done.

Our nation is the best prepared in the world to deal with these challenges, because we have a strong economy, the world’s greatest innovators, decisive leadership and the most advanced health care system in the history of the human race.  Iowa is uniquely prepared to weather this storm, because of sound economic policies and fiscal discipline demanded by Republicans over the last four years. Our reserve and emergency funds are full, and we have a healthy ending balance. It will no doubt be a challenging road back to recovery, but we will work together and make the hard decisions to get it done.

Ultimately, the United States of America is the best prepared country to deal with this crisis because it is in our national character to weather the storm and emerge stronger than ever before. We are, after all, the product of the Greatest Generation that defeated Japanese and Nazi tyranny; and the Greatest Generation were the product of those who survived the Great Depression and won the first World War; and they in turn were the product of those who fought a Civil War and ended slavery.  Ultimately, we as Americans are the descendants of Washington and Jefferson and those who forged the greatest document of human governance, the Constitution of the United States. We will prevail and our nation will hum once again with the sound of a busy, free people working for their families, their communities, their state and their country.

In this time of national challenge, the words of one of my heroes, John Wayne, seem a fitting way to conclude. He said, “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives, and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”

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