Dear President Trump,
It’s really pretty mind-boggling how many of us are affected by the ongoing covid-19 crisis. Whether we are heeding public health guidance and curtailing our activities or we are bucking it and defiantly going about our business, we are cognizant of being on one or the other side of decision-making about it. There are dozens (hundreds) of other civic issues, to include environmental ones, that also inform each person’s reality and day-to-day decision-making, but I think it hasn’t been since World War II that something has forced such a monumental conscious behavior reset for so many. And really, even that didn’t have everyone changing (or defiantly not changing) their most basic daily routines all at once. Actually, the 1918 flu pandemic did, but that’s the only historical US parallel that I can come up with.
Yes, when the Twin Towers were attacked on 9/11 we had a collective, horrific time of mourning (and for many, rage) and an extended period of fear that led to all sorts of changes initiated by the federal government. But this current situation is different in that there are governmental actions (mostly at the local and state levels) pertaining to gatherings and business closures, but there are still many, many degrees of freedom for individual inhabitants, each of whom must make their own calls about their actions (note: this is true for the adults among us, children generally don’t get to exercise as much independent decision making).
Rarely do we need to give this much thought to what we are going to do, where we are going to do it, how we are going to do it, and with whom we are going to do it. Rather, most of us are generally afforded the luxury of being in auto-pilot-mode a lot of the time, so adapting to these hyper-conscious ways of being is tough. Complicating all of it is that while many of us need to be 100 times more deliberate than usual to safeguard ourselves and our families, we are also being asked to consider the much larger greater good, which, for most of us mere mortals, is stretching us well past our comfort zones.
On Twitter there’s something trending where people are listing who they are staying home for. Not surprisingly moms feature heavily (so far dads aren’t popping up so much, but they are important too) as do Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Jimmy Carter, Dolly Parton, and Cicely Tyson. I think for many of us it’s also our elderly neighbors who we say “hi” to all the time, the grocery store clerks and the rest of the food supply chain people who are keeping us fed, our co-workers and friends who are pregnant or who we know have medical challenges, the teachers who shepherd our kids during normal times and are almost certainly missing them now, the elders in our churches who’ve set out more cookies and written more notes of encouragement over the years than anyone can possibly count, the old radicals who continue to push for social justice and disarmament, and the babies who we want to be able to know their grandparents. This list could go on for a very, very long time, but it makes clear that we are profoundly interconnected across the developmental life span and across our zillions of different walks of life.
We are truly all in this together and we cannot afford to forget this (or deny it) for a second.
May we all commit to keeping one another safe.
May we all be willing to sacrifice for the greater good.
May we be steadfast and strong through this ordeal.
May we make peace with our reality and learn as much as we can from it.