These are trying times. The COVID-19 virus may prove to be the greatest public health and economic challenge in the United States’ young history. Daily federal and municipal briefings call for schools and nonessential businesses to close, for Americans to shelter in place, and to practice social distancing. Our reactions have been varied. Some people feel that the best way through the current situation is to ignore it all - as if the virus would go away on its own. Others have decided that hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer is an appropriate response to a global crisis.
My response is to reasonably protect myself following CDC guidelines - wash my hands frequently, do not touch my face, and wear a face mask while in public spaces. I know this is very scary, but I hope we do not lose sight of each other. Social distancing means physical distancing, not emotional distancing. This is an opportunity to use technology to stay connected. Those smartphones and tablets can help those in quarantine feel less isolated. They can help us keep track of Grandma and Grandpa.
There is a good side to this, for once, families are spending time with one another. It had become rare for families to spend large amounts of time together. Now parents are working remotely. Some are homeschooling for the first time. We should use this time to reconnect - movie night, game night, sitting at the dinner table and talking to each other. No one is overscheduled. This is probably the most time we have ever had to do as we please. Yes, I know there may also be less money to take care of basic needs. Soon cities and towns will “reopen” and we will slowly head towards our new normal. I hope that the kindness and empathy that I see around me now, continues.
There are signs of this everywhere. Most of the people in this world do good and kind things. Many are afraid to be kind, afraid to show their vulnerability. But, when presented with the need to be actively considerate to each other, we responded positively.
We must be able to work through our own emotions regarding the challenges presented by COVID-19, so we can be of service to others. We must rest assured that there are total strangers who want to be of service to us. We must understand that people are anxious and are trying to work through their anxieties just as we are trying to work through ours.
Finally, I want to say a word about everyday heroes. The doctors and nurses put their lives on the line every day but especially during times of crisis. The first responders - the paramedics, the firemen and the police officers who continue to do their jobs in spite of their own concerns and fears because that’s what they do, care for us all in good and in tough times. The scientists who are working tirelessly to find a treatment and vaccine to keep us all healthy. Keep them in your prayers. The store clerks and cashiers check out the hundreds of rolls of toilet paper. The gas attendants, the fast-food workers, the bus drivers, the flight attendants, the trash collectors, and the truck drivers – all people who could not work from home, for supporting those who could. The postal workers, warehouse, and delivery persons for processing all of those panicked Amazon orders. So while America is sheltering in place and making plans to emerge from exile, remember them, they all had the option to shelter in place, yet they chose to be of service to others.
My hope is that we will carry on most of the positive lessons learned during this shelter in place experience. Continue to talk to our families, especially the children, and actually hear them. Use the gift of technology for good, to truly connect and not to alienate and to hate.
It's so beautifully convenient and timely that we are experiencing a rebirth of sorts this spring when the world around us is awakening from a long winter. My wish for the world is that we remain awake, we continue to be empathetic and kind to one another.