Seeing the Silver Linings in a Global Pandemic
The news coverage of COVID-19 can be broken into three categories: (1) bad, (2) terrible, and (3) cataclysmic. This is opposed to the normal, pre-apocalypse news, which mainly falls into just one category: bad.
While we’re all stuck in our houses (at least those of us who aren’t essential, or alternatively very mad at our employers), I thought we’d take a moment and try to find some silver linings among all the worries this pandemic has brought us. It is my belief that no matter what the situation, there is always a bright side, however faint it may be. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the light in all this darkness.
As in any battle, some heroes have emerged. There are the obvious ones—the medical workers on the front lines risking exposure to the virus, the truckers and grocery store employees working around the clock to keep our essentials on the shelves and our stores sanitary, the leaders of corporations who have taken a financial hit to keep paying their employees, the landlords who have given a break to working Americans who depend on tips in our restaurants and bars, the teachers who got creative and found a way to keep our children learning online.
Then, there are the unsung, everyday heroes. These are the people checking up on their elderly family members and neighbors, handling their grocery shopping so our senior citizens can stay safe at home. This is everyone who has made a donation, however small, to a relief fund for working Americans who find themselves suddenly without income “until further notice.” These are the mothers and fathers doing the best they can to homeschool their children while still working from home, or working to keep their homes safe and clean.
In these examples, there are two core units at the heart of American society: the family, and the community. Both are growing stronger again, after decades of gradual weakening. Pop quiz: what are the first and last names of your nearest neighbors? I wouldn’t be surprised if most of you couldn’t answer. Gone are the days of being welcomed to your new home with a basket of baked goods and a list of phone numbers.
Here’s another pop quiz, especially for my senior citizen readers: when was the last time you heard from that niece or grandchild who lives just a few towns over, before this pandemic struck? (If you did see them recently, did you really see them, or did you just see the one half of their face that wasn’t obstructed by their cell phone? If you talked recently, did they actually hear what you said and give meaningful replies, or did you feel like an unwelcome distraction from their texting and get one-word replies which were possibly irrelevant to what you just said?)
Now, young people around the country are starting to step up. We are calling our nearby elderly family members to make sure they are okay. We are running their errands to help keep them safe, away from the post-apocalyptic hellscape that is a modern grocery store. Some are even sharing their own disinfectants or other essential supplies, because our seniors need them more. Certainly, the pandemic is bringing out the worst in some people—looking at you, hoarders—like seriously, do you really need 144 rolls of toilet paper to get through a two-week shortage? But just as certainly, this crisis is bringing out the best in others.
If the pandemic has brought out the worst in people you know, at least you’ve seen their true colors.
I have two living grandmothers, both nearby. Both of them have told me that multiple neighbors have called or stopped by to make sure they have everything they need. One of my grandmothers has a daughter nearby who is doing her shopping. For the other, I am the only relative she has in the area. Yet, if something were to happen that prevented me from doing her shopping, I would still not worry about her. Because her neighbors are there for her. Multiple people have offered to pick up anything she needs.
This is a community coming together.
This is a family coming together.
Although this is just one example of one family and one community, a microcosm of American life in a midwestern suburb, this is far from an isolated instance. This is happening all over the country. If you’re a senior citizen reading this, I encourage you to stay home and accept any help that is offered. If you’re a young healthy person, I strongly urge you to check up on your elderly relatives and neighbors, whether you know them or not. (Especially if you’re mostly just sitting on your couch with nothing better to do. Please note that I am not asking you to change out of your pajamas to do this. Pajamas are perfectly acceptable shopping attire in the apocalypse.)
One of my grandmothers loves to fondly recall the spirit of unity that brought the country together in the aftermath of World War II. She’ll tell anyone who will listen all about how patriotic everyone was, how strong our community spirit was—how we all came together as Americans to make things work.
I hope that she gets to experience that again.