I catch myself prefacing what I say about the pandemic because I am not sure how my PICK ONE [feelings], [opinions], [insights] might be received. You see, I am actually grateful for the pandemic.
Let me clarify. I am not grateful that millions of lives have been lost. I am not grateful that people continue to suffer because of it. I am not grateful that economies all over the world have been up-ended and that people have lost their livelihoods, housing, or that human predators have taken advantage of every aspect of this viral scourge.
No, I am grateful because the pandemic has slowed things down enough to reveal the rotten and pitted foundations of governments and systems that so many of us PICK ONE [assumed], [depended on], [never questioned] were there to help us.
I am grateful because arising from this have been people and organizations who have filled the PICK ONE [gaps], [chasms], [holes] and have persisted against all odds in meeting the needs of those around them.
Root Cause Analysis
It is an accepted truth that in order to cure the patient and return to previous levels of functioning, the root cause of the disease must be addressed or one will forever be treating symptoms. In this case there are multiple root causes and each and every one must be examined.
Which is about as far as we ever get with these things. Saying we should do more. Committing ourselves to furthering our knowledge about the subject. But never taking action.
Like so many, I have been lulled into believing that somebody else is going to take care of my future. I assume there will be a roof over my head, food available for purchase, clothing that will make me look pretty and keep me safe from the elements. I don’t question that I will have access to health care whenever I need it along with the caregivers to provide care before, during, and after whatever medical magic has been performed.
For the majority of my life, I have taken these beliefs to be fact. Now, because of the pandemic, I know better. So what am I going to do about it?
Recruiting My Care Team
In order to delay relapsing into old habits, I am going to increase my network of friends and make sure I am a good friend. This means I am going to call people and find out not just how they are, but ask if they need anything. And I am going to ask them to do the same for me.
I am going to make sure that I have completed paperwork necessary so that my end of life wishes are clearly stated and posted where emergency personnel can see them.
I am going to recruit my very own care team for when I am unable to manage my own life. This team will include someone to oversee my business affairs. Someone who will be my emotional support. Someone who can help me with activities of daily living. A spiritual counselor, friend, confident who can love me unconditionally. Someone who will be willing to pull the plug and strong enough to advocate for me with medical providers. A legal whiz who will understand the ins and outs of the tedious details of dying and will make sure my wishes are carried out. And somebodies who will be willing to take care of watering my plants, walking the dog or cleaning out the cat’s litter box, making sure the car is still operable and going shopping for me.
To be clear, this isn’t ONE person. It is a team. And I want a say in who is on my team.
This past year has been exhausting. I had to give up naive ideas that it would be over quickly and that everything would return (quickly) to normal. It is still not over and there is plenty of evidence that things will NEVER return to normal. But, we are closer to the end than we were a year ago and we’ve begun to change direction. Because of those two things, I am feeling hopeful. And hope has been in short supply.
One teacher of mine suggested that we can get used to looking at a pond not seeing what is at the bottom because even in the still water, what lies beneath is covered. It isn’t until we get in the pond and stir up what lies there that we really see what has been hidden. And that doesn’t happen immediately. We have to wait for the water to settle once more.
That is where we are with this pandemic. It is hard to look at the death and destruction that is the consequence of poverty, broken healthcare systems, greed, and outright ignorance. We’ve stirred up the pond and we know there are things that are being uncovered, but the water hasn’t settled into clarity yet.
While We Wait
There are things we can do while we wait for the inevitable deluge of law suits that will be coming and the mountains of legislation that will be passed. Here is what I suggest.
- We need to get everyone vaccinated and on board around the difference between individual freedom (selfishness) and individual responsibility that will prevent mutual destruction.
- We need to get on board about sustainability and start to understand how deeply we are connected, in both suffering and in triumph, and realize a threat to one of us is a threat to all of us.
- We need to learn to listen more and talk less.
- We need to adopt the pace that the pandemic has forced on us, and learn to appreciate the benefits of slower growth, pauses in between, and the sheer joy of quiet.
- We need to address inequities in housing, healthcare, and work by changing zoning laws, taxes, and supporting small business.
- We need to hold our elected officials accountable, not just during election season, but on a daily basis by attending meetings, communicating, and advocating for what we want.
- We need to work at the local level, supporting community groups and strengthening collaboration by getting involved.
- We need to work on defining what enough means on an individual and community level. What are the limits of good and bad? What is enough access to health care? What is too much crime? How many jobs are enough? What is too much development? What is enough safety? What is too much power?
This is what gives me purpose. What is going to give you purpose?