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Are We Dying in Another Way?

What the world needs now is love, sweet love, it's the only thing that there's just too little of, what the world needs now is love, sweet love, no not just for some but for everyone….

--Burt Bacharach

The earth has suddenly shifted beneath our feet and we can only guess where we’re going. There’s no solid science or data to direct us, but lots of opposing views. No one in the world is untouched by this catastrophe. It’s surreal and life as we’ve known it is likely forever changed. We’ve lost jobs and investments and with them all sense of security. And, most important, we’ve lost loved ones. We share this tragedy, let’s not lose our humanity so that we die in yet another way.

Covered in masks and gloves, we seem to be moving away from each other. We need to maintain “physical distance,” but there’s no reason why that has to mean “social distance.” We treat each other like children, or like criminals. We chastise, cringe, hide, and blame. We’re consumed by fear and worry. I know a dear woman who is even afraid to leave the car to visit her husband’s grave. We’ve gone too far—and we’re not paying enough attention to the consequences.

What crazy things are we doing to ourselves and others that will impact us in unknown ways? We have an invisible enemy; we must show a united front. This is the only way we’ll create a successful recovery. This isn’t the first time in history we’ve needed to act with a high level of togetherness to overcome adversity. Unfortunately, we’re experienced and good at it. What have we learned from Covid so far? One thought from the Wall Street Journal is that we do not need to sacrifice our health for the economy; nor do we need to sacrifice the economy for our health. These are not as interdependent as we might think and there are strategies to achieve both. A second point is from Dr. Alan Beaulieu, of ITR Economics, who believes that both the federal reserve and businesses have learned from the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009, which will help guide us through the next few months.

This is a rare time when there are not a lot of answers, much less a clear path to a bright future. Based on what we know on the economic side, we can find that path together through our shared humanity, which many people seem to have forgotten in the now brief interactions we have with one another.

Let’s be cautious and safe, and at the same time respectful and kind. Let’s not judge others since we don’t know what they’re going through at that moment. Let’s be intelligent about how we behave in public; not a single one of us is “right.” Act in everyone’s best interest, not just our own. Recognize that risk mitigation is all we have right now against this invisible enemy. Use it and take care not to harm anyone else.

We have many, many beautiful examples of our humanity during Covid—people modeling how to be kind and selfless—even risking their own lives to help others. The most obvious examples are our healthcare workers, and there are numerous other people who go out of their way to help both neighbors and strangers. I hope they’re feeling our tremendous appreciation and love every day. Let’s not just say “thank you.” Let’s follow their lead.

There’s no doubt that we’ll get beyond Covid-19 in terms of our economy and our health. But what will we be like as humans? How can we protect our safety and our sense of community at the same time? How can we sustain life and love in every glorious way? We need to figure it out before we can get to a full and true recovery.

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