If you had asked me a few months ago how I thought societies would react to something like a pandemic, well I wouldn’t have painted nearly such a nice picture. Broadly speaking, I am rather skeptical of humans and our nature. When we are under stress, or adversity, they say our true character is revealed. From my personal experiences and observations, that rarely reveals positive character. My predictions would have been a great push away from loved ones, from friends, and from humanity, as people looked out for themselves. Harsh words spoken under duress, a defensive nature that categorized “us vs. them.”
I cannot adequately express the overwhelming feelings I have in being so wholly incorrect in this. I love being wrong here. I am still in disbelief at times the kindness I have seen. This careful treading of our fragility that others walking through our life seem to be hyper cognizant of. This sort of delicate handling of a horrendous situation we all find ourselves in. When no one can comprehend the surreal reality we are in, nor where this future leads, there is a quiet understanding that is passing through our communities. It shows up in people’s eyes, in the ample space people make when passing each other on a trail but maintaining a friendly smile or wave, the masks, the hand-wipes, the quarantining, the dropping off of groceries for those that shouldn’t venture out, the companies that are making their resources free until we get through this, the retooling of our factories to make ventilators, the nurses, doctors, *ah-em* teachers, musicians, grocery store clerks, scientists. People are giving up their social lives and a little bit of their sanity to keep other people, people they often don’t even know, safe in the name of flattening the curve. This all in hopes our medical systems won’t collapse. People are accepting an economic collapse over unnecessary deaths. This is bigger than economics, which has been at the forefront of nearly everything for so long. Money has taken precedent over people for years. Even governments are surprising me.
I know it’s a strange time to find hope, but man, I can’t seem to shake this one. I have seen more kindness in the last month than I have in years. I feel legitimate hope, not that one should forsake reason and knowledge in the wake of hope. Often, it does feel like you have to choose one or the other; hope or facts. After considering this for a beat, I think the act or feeling of hope has value in-of-itself, so long as one does not sacrifice their actions for delusions of happy endings.
There is certainly a big part of me that sees some pretty dire outcomes here. I start going down a dark rabbit hole of “what ifs.” What if the economy never recovers? What if we fail so bad at containing this another country sees an opportunity? What if we don’t have jobs? What if people end up liking this hermitage and it becomes the new normal? What if my kids keep having nightmares about an unseen enemy? What if they can’t make a vaccine? Or the virus keeps mutating? Or the trajectory of this is much farther off than we think?
But, in the here and now, since this was declared a pandemic, the amount of people that have gone out of their way to contact and connect with people that matter to them, just to check in, it’s beyond heartening. The vast majority have been doing good and wanting good things for others, not letting their insecurities do harm. The messages, video calls, the emails—everyone is making sure that we are all staying afloat in such uncertain and solitary times; I know it has made me feel less alone in such a lonely time. To maintaining this outpouring of love and understanding that has permeated our fears.