INDIANAPOLIS  — Nothing focuses our attention on the future like becoming a grandparent. From the day the first grandchild is born, we see the world differently. Suddenly, our hopes and fears extend well beyond the present to decades far away.

The COVID-19 virus is changing our calendars. Thus, my granddaughter in Maryland has postponed the wedding to her firefighter husband-to-be from May to August. He was a Marine who chose a profession in which he could serve others. As a first-responder to medical emergencies, his life and their lives are on today’s front lines. Their future is our future.

With this killer virus afflicting the planet, we want to return to life as it was just a few weeks ago. However, our burden today -- constrained interactions, limited economic activity, and legitimate fear of what is yet to be for ourselves, our families, our communities -- will pass.

The big question is: What will we learn from this world-wide catastrophe? Can we use these days of enforced idleness as a foundation for improving our lives, not just returning to what was, but developing what should be? We should have learned from our viral “vacation” there are no national boundaries for sunshine or storms. There is but one world of the environment and human activity. Walls may be built, edicts proclaimed, but nature and human desires deny all borders.

As with Joseph in Egypt, we must put aside from the bounty of today for the lean days of an uncertain future. For the past decade, we have seen increasing prosperity only deepen the national and international chasms between the rich and poor.

This virus has demonstrated our neglect to prepare in the times of plenty for the times of distress. We are tragically unprepared for repeated incursions of nations and nature upon our serenity.

Our economies are built on current consumption. We glory in proclaiming how much we consume only to discover how poorly we are prepared for events that become disasters. Hurricanes destroy cities not built to withstand their force. Viruses ravish our economies, as they do our bodies, because we fail to include them in our planning. This virus will pass, but Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy will still be with us. Children will be born into the whirlpool of poverty. Technology will displace established jobs and millions will be still be illiterate.

We can renew sluggish political systems that willfully ignore decades of damage to our environment and fail to protect us from further environmental degradation. Similarly, we can restructure communities with health care and decent housing for everyone.

Now is the time to re-examine past choices. These weeks of self-isolation or limited interaction provide a chance to plan for devoting more resources to the preservation and protection of our environment and the economic security of all our grandchildren.