Early in 2020 I wrote a piece that appeared in Flagpole entitled “Fear, Guilt and Confusion.” It was in response to a request for work representing our feelings and experiences as we all began navigating the new world we found ourselves in due to a virus we didn’t know much about at the time, but have now felt with something akin to an emotional and physical tsunami.
The piece involved emotions vacillating between trepidation and hope, willingness and preparedness. Secretly fearing the worst, but always hoping for the best. Trying to read as much as we could from reliable sources in order to gain the knowledge necessary to fight the virus which was turning against us, and ultimately turning us against each other. What do you believe? Who do you believe?
There wasn’t much we could do for a long time except protect ourselves. We covered up. We stayed away. It helped a lot of us; unfortunately, not all of us. We lost a lot of people. A lot. Too, too many. Some died no matter what they did, and some died because they did nothing. Some died because others did nothing. Fighting each other didn’t help. Not one bit. “It” didn’t care what your political views were.
What helped, got us through, was perseverance: Those who wore (and are still wearing) face coverings to protect themselves from getting sick, and just as importantly, preventing getting others sick. Those who got vaccinated because it was the right thing to do for all concerned, not just themselves. Those who helped, risking their own lives, treating anyone who got sick. Who administered medicines, treatments, held hands and mourned when the time came like they’d lost one of their own. “It” didn’t care what you looked like.
Maybe if we closed our eyes and thought of the person we live next door to, work alongside of, stand behind in line at a store as one of our own, maybe it would open our eyes so we can see that what’s good for us is also good for them. The greater good gives us all strength, makes a stronger world in which to fight pandemics, natural disasters, hatred and sorrow.
No one can say what the future will bring, but if there is no other lesson learned from these recent trying times, surely it’s true that united we’ll stand, and divided we’ll fall.
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