There has been much written already about how this pandemic has and will continue to change us. As an eternal optimist, I am hopeful that we will be changed for the better, but know that often times our memories are woefully short. For those who are sick (or WILL become sick) and for those trying to heal them, this is a terrible, terrible time. For those who are “just” staying home, however, the time can be used for good.
Who Are We Without Our Busy-ness?
While difficult, many families can benefit from time together, more time outside taking walks, and just generally having their calendars cleared of “busy-ness.”
Knowing how to treasure time together is wonderful. Maybe now is the time to work on things we’ve neglected because of that unhealthy obsession with “busy-ness”—fitness, hobbies, reading, home improvements, and the like. Our propensity in the U.S. to over-schedule ourselves has been dashed with a metaphorical bucket of cold water. May we think twice before going back to the same level of mindless activity.
Here are a few more changes to our national psyche that I hope we keep as we eventually move past this crisis.
Thankfulness and Appreciation for the Work of Others
It goes without saying that we must have appreciation for those who put themselves in harm’s way for the greater good. Our healthcare workers, from those who work to keep hospitals safe and disinfected, to those who are doctors and nurses, are those whom we must profoundly thank in these times of crisis. Thank goodness that they have the calling to do what they do–anytime, for anyone. We are grateful.
I also see folks expressing thankfulness online to their child’s teachers. Those teachers are tasked with the very difficult job of continuing to engage young minds despite challenging circumstances. Of course there are the parents who have always been supportive of their child’s teachers, but the real change that I hope happens is for those who previously thought that teaching was for those who “can’t”. You remember that old trope? “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” Well, this virus has hopefully shown a whole lot of doers that they can’t teach; teaching is an art, not a task for the uninspired. It, too, is a calling, not a job.
We must realize just how important ALL THE WORKERS are. There is no work that isn’t noble and necessary—whether it’s a need or something that makes life more enjoyable. In this pandemic atmosphere, everyday heroes are our checkout clerks at the grocery store, the janitors and custodians cleaning our schools and buildings for the eventual return of the workforce, and the delivery and warehouse persons who are somehow keeping the supply chain alive and well.
There is so much honor in these jobs and more—the list is infinite. And how about the things we are missing? Our hairdressers, a favorite food server or bartender, our friends in the arts? All of humanity in its infinite variety makes this big blue marble tick and hum along. I hope I never hear again that a parent has unrealistic hopes for their child to go to a “good” college and get a “good” job. ALL jobs are good and necessary. There is HONOR in all work. There is prestige in work and there is importance. One need not have prestige to be important; misplaced prestige is bad for society. We would do well to remember this.
New Businesses and Ways to “Be”
Proving once again that American ingenuity is not dead, this pandemic has brought a new wave of jobs and unique approaches for connection and socialization. When we found out that we’d need to keep our kids learning at home, there was an onslaught on social media of interesting things to do—virtual tours of museums, doodling with Mo Willems, free exercise classes with the Fenix System, and on and on. Out of necessity, new jobs have sprung up: the delivery of prescriptions to homes, bread (and donuts!) delivery from our favorite bakery, Schneider’s in Westerville, virtual entertainment and socialization for nursing home residents, to name a few. We have also seen the glaring need for manufacturing to return to the United States. A global economy is good, but not at the expense of not being able to produce our own products both to be prepared and when under duress. Hopefully, a renewed interest in manufacturing and the industrial sector will find fertile ground in our communities.
Besides the business aspect, neighbors are reaching out to help one another in meaningful ways. My daughter is recently returned to Ohio from New York City. Before she left the city, she saw a kind lady posting flyers saying she was willing to run errands for the older people in their apt building. The woman was organizing an army of volunteers to help in any way necessary. Here in Westerville, we have our own armies in place already: Rick Bannister organized our Neighborhood Bridges brigade in January of 2017
and has since spread the model to 25 other communities around the United States. We have the Westerville Area Resource Ministry which provides food and support to area residents. The challenge to which we must rise is to continue to do MORE than what we already had in place and to do it on an absolutely personal level.
Be a good neighbor, be a good daughter or son, be a good human being.
Qualified Leadership in Times of Trouble
Lastly, we here in Ohio are being led through this critical time by two folks you might have heard of: Governor Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton. No matter your political affiliation, you have to admit that Governor DeWine has shown tremendous leadership. Early on, I read that Dr. Acton was the last person in the cabinet for DeWine to hire. He felt he had to search and search to get just the right person. Further, in previous administrations, the Director of Health wasn’t even a health professional. DeWine wanted to change that and have a bonafide physician in charge of health matters for our state.
It seems ludicrous that in 2020, actually having someone be QUALIFIED to lead in a position is revolutionary. Why WOULDN’T expertise in an area be an absolute requirement in order to hold an office in that area? The last way that I would like for us to change permanently would be for it to be a requirement for anyone holding a cabinet/leadership office in government, have to have EXPERIENCE, EXPERTISE, and CREDENTIALS for that position. In other words, the U.S. Secretary of Education would need to have experience working in public education before being able to lead the entire system. I’m sure there are other examples—that one just springs to mind for some reason.
We Must Keep our Heads Up
In closing, we will be okay. In some ways, the pandemic is like a market correction, but for social issues. We will get through this. On the other side, though? Can we make it look, feel, and be better than it was before? THAT is my challenge to you, me and everyone else.