What’s going on in the world right now is intense. Before you open this week’s Checklist, I invite you to pause with me to take a breath.
Uncertainty can be scary
First, let’s acknowledge that people are feeling afraid right now for good reasons. Our nation hasn’t been through something like this in recent history. It’s unnerving. It’s disorienting.
The fact that we don’t know everything about this virus can invite fear for our own health and the lives of people we love. It can be distressing to have our everyday lives interrupted as public events are canceled and school activities curtailed. We may worry about financial strain for ourselves and economic loss in our communities. Some feel frustrated by a perceived lack of concern in our nation’s highest levels of government.
If you have moments of fear and distress, know that you’re not alone. Many people around the world feel this way right now. These are very normal, human ways to respond to uncertainty.
Take care of you first
Here’s reminder to be gentle with yourself and those around you.
For years, I’ve talked about self-care being crucial to persevering through challenging times. And this has never been more true. To remain resourceful, we must put that proverbial oxygen mask over our own faces first. Do what deeply nourishes and helps you feel calm.
Solid, trustworthy information can also be a balm. The World Health Organization’s COVID-19 page has complete information about how to take good care of your body during this time.
And then we can act.
Love in action
As uncertain and unusual as these times are, when we feel resourceful it allows us to act from love instead of fear.
When we wash our hands, it can be a loving act of service to those around us. When we close schools and work from home, we’re actively reducing the spread of a disease that can kill people. It is a loving act to spare someone’s life, even if we don’t know who they are.
When practicing social distancing to prevent transmitting illness, we can still greet someone with a warm look, a kind smile, hand over heart as a gesture of affection. We can laugh together about how awkward it is not to shake hands or hug out of habit, and remind each other this is another form of love.
The citizens of Italy–whose country is under severe quarantine restrictions–are standing on their balconies and singing to help each other feel less lonely. This is love in action.
Choosing love over fear
One of our AoCC volunteers, Emily, lives in Brooklyn, NY and had this to say about a recent trip to the grocery store:
“I’ve never seen it so busy or the shelves so empty. They’re trying to keep up with demand, so there are also boxes in all the aisles with folks trying to restock shelves (anyone who knows NYC grocery stores know that there is NOT room to pass when that happens). What struck me was the lack of conflict among the shoppers. Unlike other busy times (like right before the Superbowl or as a blizzard is approaching), people stayed calm, waited for others to pass or move out of the way, and offered help to each other (like reaching down something from an upper shelf). I’m sure a lot of the folks in there were frightened, and my worry brain did wander off to how ugly it could potentially get. But it didn’t. New Yorkers are famously rude and impatient, but we also have the reputation for pulling together when times are challenging. I was very pleasantly reminded of other crises in recent memory when my community showed its best. Maybe we’ll get through this round together.”
This is love in action.
When I learned that people around the country are avoiding Asian restaurants out of fearful ignorance, we ordered Chinese take out.
I asked Judy (our local restaurant owner) if things had been slow, she said, “No problems here. We are very busy with take out.”
“I’m so glad! I love your food and wanted you to know I support my local Chinese restaurant,” I said.
A huge grin spread over Judy’s face. “Are you local?” It’s a small town. Connections matter.
“I am. I live just up the road here.” I hefted the brown paper bag off the counter, warm and heavy with goodies inside.
“What’s your name?”
“Well, thank you, Jennifer! We’ll see you again soon!”
Making this connection was my way of putting love for my neighbors into action.
Our threadbare safety net
Part of choosing love over fear in these times means keeping a love of justice at the center of our advocacy.
This disease is showing us how many people lack options who work hourly, for tips, and in the gig economy. Many have no other choice than to work while sick in order to keep a roof overhead, lights on, and food in the fridge. We know this is wrong and makes us all vulnerable, so this week’s checklist advocates for our neighbors who need paid sick time.
Many Americans lack the assurance of medical treatment when they’re sick. Some people put off diagnosis or treatment because the medical bill might break the bank. We know that when some Americans get treatment and others can’t, it is unjust and makes us all vulnerable.
Working parents must take time off when school is cancelled, which can tank their household finances. It forces some parents to leave their children unsupervised or risk losing their jobs. This is unsafe for all of us.
People who are currently in medical facilities, prison, and ICE detention are especially vulnerable to contracting this contagious disease. All lives matter. If release isn’t possible, extra protection for their well being is crucial.
For these issues too, we can put love into action.
We can’t do it all, but we all can do something
To support our neighbors in these times, you’re invited to dive into this week’s Americans of Conscience Checklist.
There’s much we can do. Let’s do it with love.