We are living in a world in which the ground shifts under us daily. No one alive today has been through anything quite like this. We are still facing everything that consumed us before the COVID-19 virus invaded our lives, but now there is a surreal quality to the ever-changing advice, admonitions and requirements of social distancing. There are people who will die alone in hospital rooms.
There are millions of people out of work, not knowing where rent or food money will come from. We are ramping up our Internet skills to allow for Zoom meetings and FaceTime visits with the grandkids. We are living in a foreign place where too much is unfamiliar, and tomorrow is unknown.
As a public health nurse, I came out of retirement to work the virus phone line in Seattle. The calls I take range from fascinating to heartbreaking. While we keep away from each other, we also see that we need each other.
There couldn’t be a better time for civility. As we sort through the information and recommendations that assault us, there couldn’t be a better time for remembering who we are. To get through this pandemic with the fewest lives lost, the least economic disruption, and salvaging the precious connections of families and colleagues, we need to be talking to each other.
Across all political lines and religious differences, and without regard for petty things that divided us in the past. We are all up against the same organism, though we will each have different responses to it.
We can “flatten that curve” and we can support each other in creative ways. And, in the process, we can become the best versions of ourselves.
It’s pretty simple, really. Please do the following:
1. Listen to each other,to the scientists, to those who are on the front lines. Listen to each other’s worries, anxieties and needs. Use your mind and heart to sift through it all, but listen.
2. Breathe. Get outside and appreciate the air that our lungs are made to breathe. Take a deep breath. Take a break when you need one, and give space to others doing the same.
3. Act.Do something every day that makes a small difference. Call someone you know is home alone. Offer to get groceries for a stressed or elderly neighbor who may be running out of essentials. Send a book to your best friend from high school who is a single parent in a distant state. Sew masks. Donate to an animal shelter or food bank if you have income.
4. Be kind. Cut everyone slack. Apologize when you are cranky (and who isn’t?). Offer to bring a casserole to the family across the street – even if you didn’t like their lawn sign last fall. We are endlessly creative — think of something wildly kind, and do it.
We can collaborate on our joint survival. In new ways.
board member for the volunteer Whidbey Island group Civility First.