The Canary in the Cold Mine:

Since We’re all in this Together

Kiwanis Club Bowling Green, OH Feb. 4, 2021

This is a description of the challenges we face in the post-pandemic world. It’s based on 8 fundamental questions followed by eight case studies to enrich answers to the questions. There are cartoons inserted throughout. As you will see below, Medium does not accept these. You can send me an email ( and I’ll gladly send you the cartoons. The cartoons dramatize thinking about the questions and, by using visual pictures, each makes a statement much different from verbal or word-based communicating.

It’s difficult for any of us to think about what is going on in the midst of this global pandemic. Five months ago I read Fareed Zakaria’s book Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World. His work was helpful, but I also found some important ideas missing. This is my attempt to fill in the blanks. “The Canary in the Coal Mine: Since We’re All in this Together” is the best metaphor I can think of for the current crisis. If the canary gets sick or dies, the miners will see that as a warning. I see that warning and explore it below.

The eight questions map major ways through which we can think about the virus and our ways forward. The questions are challenging. In February 2021 I will speak at a Kiwanis meeting. Kiwanians will be given the questions two weeks before the Feb 4 presentation and they will be asked to select two questions that they would like to see discussed by all Kiwanians. They should report their choices to me within a week; I will tabulate them and select the two most popular. Those are the questions we will examine on our Zoom meeting in Feb.

I have also included material after the Questions below that invite deeper investigation into each question for those who are interested in exploring more fully, now or in the future. I call that Case Studies.

Eight Questions

1. Americans were globally engaged from the end of the cold war in 1990 until four years ago, when we turned inward. How can or should we shift gears and move from looking at and acting for ourselves to looking outward and leading the world again?

2. What has contributed to or caused our polarization and how might we address it together in our own community?

3. How can we trust science with healthy and informed skepticism? What has caused so many Americans to resist such trust in science?

4. Is climate change real or is the science behind it biased? If it is real, what should be done? Why does society allow powerful economic forces (oil and coal and gas companies) to prevent meaningful action to stop climate change and what will it take to overcome these interests. Is a pure free-market system in which money in politics is not regulated capable of responding?

5. Capitalism is a force that has brought large numbers of human beings out of poverty. At the same time, the wealth it generates is increasingly benefiting fewer and fewer people globally and here in the US. What can or should we do to make capitalism work better for more people?

6. Those in need here and around the world lack material support that ends in disease, poverty, prison, and death. Many local and international organizations have come to their rescue. But there are never enough. What should we expect from such an organization? Which ones are successful and why? What can we as individuals do?

7. Persons of color have historically been denied the human rights due to them. The police killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 brought attention to persistent discrimination that has hurt black persons in our country. Are there steps that should be taken to rectify the problem associated with the inequity in human rights for Blacks or other groups discriminated against?

8. Does the internet require more aggressive management to block malware and lies in social media? What dangers and harms derive from such technologies?

Eight Case Studies

1.Can and should the US Retake Its Global Leadership?


Time Magazine / Ian Bremmer

2. Healing Polarization

U. S. National Libraries of Medicine

Pew Research

Politico: america/polarization

U. of Chicago:

3.Trust Me, I’m a Scientist

Nature and Medicine

National Geographic

Pew Research

Science Magazine

4. Climate Change or Is It So?

d Tom Toles 2016

  • Climate Change: The Basics Courtesy of Columbia University Press and Tom Toles 2016

Blackstone, the world’s largest investment company




National Geographic

5. The Lows and Highs of Capitalism

US News

UK Essays

San Francisco Tax on the Rich passed in Nov. 2020.

Fox News:

The Fight for $15$15

$7.12 Minimum wage for 11 year

6. Supporting Those in Need

Social Workers to the Rescue

Doctors without Borders

Nelson Mandela The Elders


Ohio Coalition against Gun Violence

Pope Francis His new book Let Us Dream

Humanitarian Assistance

Oxfam / Nairobi, Kenya

2019 Nobel Prize

7.Race Relations

The Economist

Tiba Nairobi Kenya

Pew Research


8. Internet Dangers




U. of Iowa

Brad Smith and Carol Brown Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age

Appendix: Fareed Zakaria described our new normal:

A cashless society

Remote work sites

Brick and mortar stores and markets on their way out

Students stuck in their homes and dorms.

A smaller world where we’ve realized that we’re tied to one another economically, politically, socially, technologically, and environmentally

Rise in depression, anxiety, and suicide

The decline of hope

Enforced isolation that can lead us to avoid new experiences, opportunities and challenges.

Pope Francis has found important thoughts for the world ahead. In his latest book Let Us Dream he quotes his favorite poet: “Where the danger is, grows the saving power. Though moments of reckoning will strip us bare, absolute vulnerability leaves us open to moments of grace and revelation.” Calamities such as this, says Francis, can be a threshold, an experience dividing one year from another. This is a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities, what we value, what we want, what we seek and commit to what we have dreamed of.”

The Pope continues: “The pandemic has given the lie to a ‘myth of self-sufficiency’ that sanctions extreme inequalities and frays the ties that bond societies together.” Our new world is vulnerable to ill health, poverty, joblessness, cybercrime, terrorism, new pandemics, and nuclear destruction.

Dec. 1, 2020 World Cases

63,503,860 cases

1,472,091 Deaths

2.3 % death rate

A short bibliography

I’ve consulted many sources to gain a broad collection of ideas. I’ve tried to resist choosing an abundance of liberal ideas but that was difficult because many conservative sources required membership to quote them. The sources that I’ve used most are:

Wikipedia (which deserves ample credit for assembling information that competes ably with Encyclopedia Brittanica in quality and range of subject). It’s done that by eating costs and rarely asking its millions of readers for financial support.

The Carnegie Endowment for World Peace.

New Yorker and Atlantic Magazines.

The New York Times.


Poet W. H. Auden, “We must love one another or die.”

Thanks for your assistance: Dianne Klein, Alice Calderonello and Paul Haas.


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