The coronavirus is about to ask questions of most of us we have probably never been asked before.
They cannot be answered with ignorance, but can certainly be compounded by it.
The emergency measures announced by the Taoiseach are all preventative.
They are being put in place not to frighten but to fortify us in coming days so we can fight this together. So a stampede to the shops can only create hardship and unnecessary scarcity.
As Health Minister Simon Harris said, people should "buy what we need to provide for ourselves and our families and our loved ones".
Everyone should consider the "unintended consequences of taking something that somebody else requires", he added.
Now is no time for hysterical behaviour.
Any nation whose national spirit has been tempered in the fires of colonisation, famine and mass emigration can surely summon the strength to see this through and protect those who need it.
That is why the scenes of panic buying around the country must not be repeated.
Beating the virus is now our single most important national priority. But a siege mentality won't help. Irresponsibly and selfishly filling shopping trolleys with groceries that will sit on shelves for weeks at home is beneath us.
There is no threat to the flow of normal goods and supplies unless we create one. Stockpiling or hoarding, which may ultimately harm others, is irresponsible.
It puts extra stress on all those involved in providing us with vital goods and services.
It was Gandhi who said there is enough for every man's need but not his greed. There are many things we may not be able to do about this virus but we can 100pc control how we respond to it and this is empowering. Yes, the virus is out there; the population has no immunity and no therapy exists. Again this must not make us fearful, but careful.
The merits of physical separation to fight a spreading respiratory disease need hardly be repeated. There is consolation in knowing the World Health Organisation is confident the vast majority of those affected will survive.
Far from making us blasé this must serve to reinforce our responsibility to keep it from reaching our elders or others whose health may be compromised.
Even if you aren't at high risk of being seriously ill from the disease, you risk spreading it. That may be true even if you feel perfectly healthy. So we must think of others.
One US scientist noted: "If you had a population of hermits, the rate at which this virus spreads would be zero."
We are not hermits, we are communities and that should be seen as our strength not our weakness.
It is critically important to slow the disease's spread so our health care system doesn't become overwhelmed.
Never has so much depended on our own behaviour and our ability to pull as one.