The sacrifices being asked of Americans during the novel coronavirus pandemic are extraordinary. As of this writing, New Jersey has shut down any open-to-the-public business deemed non-essential. Restaurants can't have customers dine in. Everyone's been told to work from home. And countless people are suddenly out of work, or unable to get any hours at jobs that just can't make use of them.

We're used to creature comforts, and now even those of us still employed and still healthy have to put many aside.

So Jim Gearhart asks: "Can the most spoiled, frantically self-indulgent, self-absorbed population on the Earth morph into self-sacrificing, self-disciplined, responsible, socially-concerned population?"

"I think it can," Jim says in the latest edition of the weekly Jim Gearhart Show podcast and Facebook Live show.

Jim conducted this week's discussion with Bob Williams from afar. Jim, an octogenarian, and Bob, a kidney transplant survivor, are both in the high-risk group for complications from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coroanvirus. Even if they weren't, public officials say everyone should minimize all the in-person contact they can, to slow the spread enough for our healthcare system to keep up.

It's a big request of a society that values individual freedom and agency.

But Jim has memories of the Great Depression. He remembers World War II.

"Everybody felt they were in the same boat," Jim says. "Consequently, there was very little of this bickering, arguing."

We had a little taste of that all-in-it-together resolve after 9/11, too, Jim said -- though politics and divides over the wars that follow put an end to much of it. Still, Jim says, he's seen what sort of a people we can be when faced with adversity.

"I'm rather hopeful."

The Jim Gearhart show is LIVE on Facebook every Thursday at 10:30 a.m., at Got an idea for an upcoming installment of Jim's show? Meet Jim at to suggest it in the comments, or email

The Jim Gearhart Show podcast is available every week on New Jersey 101.5 and in the New Jersey 101.5 app. You can also subscribe with your favorite podcasting app for iPhonesAndroid devices or your computer:

That's just part of what Jim and Bob Williams take on in the latest installment of his show, also available as a podcast. Check out the full episode to hear the rest.

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