Can a Pandemic Force us all to Reassess our Values?
In uncertain times, steady yourself with what matters to you
Since our collective reality took an unexpected turn with the arrival of COVID-19, you may be wondering how to function.
Aren’t we all?
But if you’re among the lucky ones who can work from home — or can’t but will keep receiving a paycheck regardless — breathe. You might still get sick but at least you won’t have to worry about where next month’s rent or mortgage payment comes from. Nor do you have to wonder whether you’ll be able to afford food, utilities, or health care. The same goes for anyone with enough money in the bank to survive a few weeks or months without working.
And when you’re forced to stay home, you get to spend more time with those who matter most, your family, your partner, or even just yourself if you live alone. While the risk of cabin fever varies depending on your temperament and that of those around you, it needn’t be an ordeal.
Why not reclaim the commuting time that’s the bane of many people’s existence? Not only can you put it toward extra sleep and doing things that make you happy.
You’re also saving on public transport fares or gas.
While you may be uncomfortable and stressed, chances are you’re more comfortable than many.
Some freelancers have just seen assignments and gigs go up in smoke for the next few weeks and have no idea how to make ends meet. Some employees have no job anymore because business has taken a nose dive as is the case with the travel and hospitality industry.
And for the working poor already in a precarious situation, COVID-19 could mean hunger and homelessness.
When you lose or could lose your livelihood, it becomes far more terrifying than the prospect of losing your life. The impact is immediate. Getting back on your feet could take longer than under regular circumstances if there’s no longer a demand for your skills.
There are many folks who are going to need a lot of handholding in the next few weeks. Hopefully we can remember to consider the least fortunate in our communities and show up for one another.
Albeit not in person.
This is the internet’s time to shine.
COVID-19 has reminded us of how vulnerable we humans are: The need for empathy and compassion has never been more urgent. Despite social distancing, we still have a duty of care toward one another. We can make up for our physical absence by being more thoughtful and intentional in the way we use the internet to communicate, connect, and relate. We can replace call out culture with solidarity and clickbait with words that matter and empower.
As a global tool, the internet can be a force for good and help alleviate isolation, loneliness, and fear if we use it to interact mindfully. This means exercising caution with the content we produce and share so as not to cause unnecessary distress to others.
Information overload is likely to confuse you so find a few sources you can trust and stick with them. Public media is always a safe bet but bloggers who embed a couple of tweets in a post and play at journalism aren’t so please beware. As the saying goes, a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.
In a pandemic context, misinformation could be fatal, all the more as we’re not in control of anything; only liars pretend they are. The best thing we can do is pay attention to how our words might impact others and ensure that impact is benevolent.
Not only will we survive this by sticking together but we’ll emerge stronger, wiser, and more compassionate.
Until then, we need to steady ourselves with what matters to us, our nearest and dearest but also the causes and creative pursuits we care about.
While a pandemic inevitably changes how we go about being a human in the world, we’re alive now.
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor now based in the Netherlands. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.