The world stopped due to a dangerous disease, and our lives have unwillingly come to a screeching halt. We long for all the things we naïvely took for granted only a short time ago. The gift of visiting family, of human interaction, of a secure job and of countless luxuries such as attending a concert, enjoying a good meal in a restaurant or greeting a friend at a Sunday church service have all been temporarily suspended.
Similarly, my grandmother experienced living through the Great Depression of the 1930s. She lived through it, but truthfully, she carried the message of threatening scarcity with her forever. Until now, I never fully understood Gram’s emotional scars that manifested in odd behaviors.
For instance, if green beans or corn were on sale, even though Grandma lived alone, she would buy at least a dozen cans. Besides stockpiling canned goods, she’d stack toilet paper almost to the ceiling in her bathroom. After COVID-19 runs its course, I will probably never look at toilet paper the same way either.
Gram also taught anyone who would listen the importance of saving for a rainy day. She believed in avoiding debt and using wisdom when purchasing anything, because she never forgot a rainy day was an imminent possibility. Yet most Americans weren’t prepared or financially able to save for this COVID-19 rainy day, so it’s economically frightening.
Although if we are candid, it’s frightening for everyone. After all, news commentators, politicians and healthcare experts use the rather unsettling word “unprecedented” when referring to this pandemic. “Unprecedented” is defined as something that has “never happened or existed in the past,” according to the Cambridge Dictionary. This means there is no established data, no known outcomes or available roadmap for experts to use when navigating this crisis.
We have rapidly embraced the lifestyle of a new vocabulary with terms such as social distancing, sheltering-in-place, personal protective equipment (PPE) and coronavirus update. And silently we can’t help but wonder, how will we ever return to a more normal existence?
Despite this, historically Americans have been a strong people when faced with daunting challenges. As a nation, we have navigated other terrifying tragedies with uncertain outcomes and remained resilient. Specifically, remember 9/11/2001 when the USA withstood a horrific attack?
But unfortunately, 9/11 didn’t leave us unscathed. After that, we seemed to become more mistrustful of each other. Now, with the advent of COVID-19, many folks are fearful of anyone not living in their own home. Still, there are hurting people among us who desperately need assistance, and it’s our civic duty to keep searching for solutions.
Those hit hardest by the effects of this current healthcare crises are individuals marginalized in some way already: The elderly, those with fragile health conditions, the mentally ill, adults living in a domestic violence situation, abused children in an unsafe environment and the countless poor among us. There are also the grieving, those brokenhearted by the loss of a loved one to this heinous illness.
At first, there was shock, as Americans faced this unknown enemy. Grocery shelves emptied, selfish individuals hoarded basic necessities and greedy people stockpiled life-saving PPE that should have been distributed to our heroic medical community and first responders. But these callous citizens are not the majority of who we are as a nation. Those living in the USA have often been defined by their generosity and resourcefulness.
“Resourceful” is an American attribute being displayed everywhere from home-bound mask makers, parents turned teachers, overnight internet churches, to frontline physicians inventing ventilators out of ordinary items, among many other examples of ingenuity.
As for “generosity,” there are constant acts of kindness that can go unnoticed, if we focus only on the negative. We can’t allow the fear surrounding COVID-19 to cause us to become selfish, greedy, or afraid to be kind or compassionate to other human beings, even if that kindness is from a distance.
We have to fight fear with faith. Faith that this temporary trial will be coming to an end someday soon. My late mother used to encourage me with a well-known expression, which I would like to leave with you, “This too shall pass.” It truly will, because God is still in control, so we can take courage and have hope that better days are just around the corner. But for now, we have to take it “one day at a time.”
Christina Ryan Claypool is a freelance journalist and inspirational speaker. Contact her through her website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com