For the most part, I have been emotionally unaffected by Covid-19. Even when the virus struck our state, there was very little emotional change that I experienced. As our children were taken out of school; as professional sports around the country were canceled; as companies and local vendors closed up shop, I still remained emotionally stoic.
However, that all changed when it struck our small community of a few thousand people. Suddenly, I have become paranoid as I inconspicuously gaze around each corner wondering when the zombie-like stalker will come for me. Will the next box or can of food I touch have Covid-19 bacteria? What if I forget to wash my hands when returning from the store? What if I already have it, but don’t know it?
Now, I often feel like the character “Sheldon” from The Big Bang Theory. I am constantly preparing my mind for an apocalyptic world where I have to protect my family from the ravaging zombies that have come for our brains. Although I have not acted upon any of these fantasies, they are nevertheless prevalent in my mind.
A simple cough that is a result of a dry throat, now instills within me, a sense of fear. Am I getting sick, I wonder? Why do I feel nauseous, is it because I have been infected, or did I forget to eat lunch again? Why do I have the sniffles? Oh right, it’s my allergies. These are the paranoid questions constantly ruminating within my head. Questions that, in my lifetime, I have never had to ask.
I have been amazed at the outreach and compassion displayed by many around the country. From small businesses to large corporations, it seems many are doing their part to help make our quarantine more bearable.
However, the cynical side of me thinks that it’s not as much about caring as it is a desperate attempt for these businesses to continue to make money; either during the quarantine or as an investment for after. Perhaps more accurately, it is a little of both.
At Church this morning I was reminded of just how abundantly those of us in America live. Even those of us who struggle to make ends meet have an abundance compared to many people living in other countries. I can’t help but think that in times like these we should not seek resources to replenish our abundance but to live simpler lives in order that we might distinguish between what we want, and what we need. Changing our mindset will ensure that everyone around us will be provided for as well.
Many people around the world live their lives with a constant feeling of dread and loneliness. Many children around the world are taken out of school because of an insurgence of violence or a new disease that has ravaged their village. To many around the world, what many of us in America are experiencing is part of normal life for them. For those of us in America, Covid-19 will be a short footnote in our history, but for many around the world, this is their history.
All of us are lucky to be American’s. We are lucky because we have not done anything to earn this right, we were simply lucky enough to be born into its privilege. Many around the world have not been as lucky.
I have been my family’s genealogist for almost 15 years (McDonald). Our family has a proud long-storied history stretching back to the early 1700s. Those in my family have served in militia’s and as soldiers; we have participated in the Continental Congress and fought for the right and privilege to be our own nation. Our family has been represented in nearly every war from the French and Indian wars onward. We are very proud of our Scotch-Irish heritage and have done our job to make this country better.
As I look back at every generation there is a story. A story of triumph and tribulation; of struggle and success. And as I continue to go through each generation, I eventually come to the one who made the perilous journey across the Atlantic. Like many who immigrated to America/Colonies, he was escaping something. He battled the threat of disease and mental fatigue in order that he might have a better life. And, when he arrived, he was a foreigner among foreigners. The colonies were a melting pot of foreigners, who though different in many ways, shared in the commonality of suffering. Ultimately, it would be this bond that would fuel the small colonies’ resolve to defeat the most powerful nation in the world.
Our current tribulations should not direct us towards fear. They should not provoke paranoia. Instead, we should embrace this tribulation as a way to strengthen our communities through shared suffering – a forced sabbatical that grants us rest and time with our families. It should be a time of slowing for our minds to reflect upon what is most important to us in this short life. It should serve as a reminder for us to be thankful for the many resources we have at our disposal. It should also be a time to think of others and what they need.
For a long time, we as Americans, have lacked a context that would allow us to empathize with those who suffer around the world. We now have a taste of what that suffering is like. It is my hope that when we come out on the other side of this, our experience will make us more sensitive to those who will go on in a continuous state of suffering. It is my hope that we will be made stronger and become more compassionate to our fellow man.