I’m writing this in between my children needing to use our home computer for their virtual school programs. Shout out to the amazing faculty that are working overtime to make sure our kids maintain a little bit of normalcy in their academic lives! I think all parents have a new appreciation for your thoughtfulness, skills, and commitment!
There are already so many think pieces being written about this pandemic, its revelations and its implications for all of us. So many social media posts from everyday people grappling with the effects of all this on themselves and their communities. This post comes from a place of needing to process some of my own thoughts and feelings around this crisis, rather than the idea that I have something important or revelatory to say. So, here are some of my takeaways from the beginning of this outbreak.
- I have been very moved by the generosity and creativity of individuals. Log on to social media and scroll for five minutes. You’ll see what I mean. (As if you haven’t been obsessively scrolling already, right?!)
- The aggregation of the generosity of individuals, small businesses, and small-scale organizations is not the same as having generous, supportive institutions. As with most crises, the most marginalized folks in society will be the most adversely affected. The strains on our healthcare system will lay bare our failures to provide for each other and make obvious the fact that healthcare is a human right. The economic impacts will lay bare the precarity of most American’s finances and the need for wage justice. If all of this turmoil isn’t an indication that we ought, as a society, to be providing for the basic needs of a dignified human life, FOR EVERYONE, then I don’t know what is.
- I keep coming back to this phrase from Rebecca Solnit: “Time to come together by staying apart; social distancing is social solidarity.” It has been very hard for me to emotionally adjust to this kind of crisis response. When big, scary things happen, humans come together. We gather to build shelters, distribute supplies, hug, and pray. We think about and enact taking care of each other by getting close. When times are tough, we hold each other. Reformulating social distancing as a way of coming together is challenging but necessary. Thinking about the personal inconveniences and sacrifices that many will be making in the upcoming weeks in terms of solidarity is appropriate and helpful.
- It took a while to get there, and there will be serious consequences of that, but people are finally thinking about how their actions impact the most vulnerable members of our community in a real way. Will this become more habitual? Will we be able to see analogies to our behavior as related to other kinds of crises? I am thinking especially about the way the general public thinks and talks about climate crisis.
- So often, success looks like nothing happened. This is especially true of success in the face of destructive threats. The forest wasn’t clear-cut. The rights-compromising law didn’t pass. The rate of transmission slowed. I think this is true on small scales too. I know that I’m performing my domestic tasks well, for example, only when it looks like nothing happened. No dirty dishes in the sink. No dirt tracked over the floor. We need to intentionally render visible the effort that makes successes like these seem invisible. Maybe these next few weeks will help with that.