Americans are fiercely independent beings, our ancestors, family, and friends fought for the freedoms we all enjoy. Today, we are in a national crisis because of a virus too many Americans are not taking seriously. As a nurse, I can assure you this is serious. Many of my sisters and brothers are on the frontlines, working without breaks, pulling overtime, missing time with their families, and exposing themselves to COVID-19. The frontline healthcare and rescue workers are the heroes of today.
Our federal and state governments are asking everyone to voluntarily stay home, keep safe social distance, go out for essentials only, and heed travel cautions and warnings. And yet, many are not. Today is not the day for fierce independence, today is not about which side of the political fence we may stand, today is about saving the lives of our families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, today is about thinking of others and not just ourselves.
As I visit with others, I hear stories about families who are stressed, getting on each other’s nerves, balking at family dinners and game nights as if being asked to participate in public hangings. Have we disconnected so completely the concept of family dinners and game nights is seen as torture instead of an opportunity to reconnect?
With the advent and availability of mobile communication and social media, society has become isolated. If families sit around a dinner table at all, everyone at the table is scrolling through their personal virtual worlds. It is our reality today, and sadly, the norm. The world lives outside of our electronic devices and it is that world at risk.
Kudos to those making the best of the current uncertainty by bridging the distance with family and friends using social media and technology. Last night we played a game through face-time with one of my adult children who is in another state currently under a mandatory stay-at-home order. Was it ideal? No, but it was fun and created a shared memory, and relieved a bit of his boredom.
Now that most schools have closed there is collective panic among parents whose jobs are considered essential and are forced to figure out childcare and schooling from home while trying to keep food on their tables and roofs over their heads. Fear and panic cloud our ability to think clearly, logically. We become paralyzed, unable to band together with others in the same situation to problem-solve and toss around creative ideas. Parents are being stretched beyond their abilities to cope. Newscasters are warning of increases in domestic violence in families already in crisis because of the added stress of sheltering together. Perhaps we have more to fear from each other than from a deadly virus?
Every crisis presents opportunities to rise above the status quo. Let’s all take a few deep breaths and prioritize. People are the priority. Turn off the electronics and talk to one another, check on family, friends, and neighbors, stay home as much as possible, create memories, and most of all, be kind…..