By: Sandy Churchill
Schools are closed. Recitals, games, rehearsals canceled… Eat-in restaurants are now closed and a federal state-of-emergency launched… Coronavirus seems to be taking our former lives hostage and ushering in a “new normal” with the steady blips and beeps of e-mail updates, texts, and news counts of the latest number infected, tested, and deceased. Anxiety is rising, for sure. Parents are worried, kids are echoing concerns, and at-risk folks need protection and extra caution. This pandemic is unprecedented in terms of the level of cautionary closures in an attempt to contain cases and minimize the spread of this little-understood viral mutation.
While it’s natural that anxiety is climbing, and even panic can set in, each of us has an opportunity to choose friendship and community over fear and frenzy. My husband ventured to Market Basket after the two-week school closure announcement that has already been extended to three weeks, and he was astounded at the bare shelves. There was literally one can of wax beans and no soup at all, with the exception of a few “cream of…” varieties. When I visited Trucchi’s the prior day, a harried cashier confided that one customer hoarded 50 bottles of hand sanitizer leaving none for anybody else. Earlier this week, there were customers fighting over toilet paper.
Fear is rampant. People think supplies will be halted and they will be relegated to fend for themselves in unforeseen territory. I understand the worry, and have compassion especially for our older relatives and friends and those with compromised immune symptoms. But can we share what we have? Do we need several months’ supplies of anything? I doubt it. Even so, is it fair to grab all of the canned-whatever and leave none for your neighbor?
My husband, children, and I have been discussing daily the implications of the pandemic, political exploitation, guesses on duration and outcome, and woes of so many canceled or postponed events. Adjustments have to be made for all of us. But we can complain or we can help. A wonderful friend decided to put together grocery and supplies bags for elderly shut-ins, while another offered bagged lunches or breakfasts to families who rely on school meals to feed their children. A fellow scouting parent offered to help me launch my merit badge class remotely using her video conference software so the teens can still work on their badges. Another offered inspirational posts on prayer during times of crises and the endless joys of nature and family time that are “not canceled” and should be embraced. Strangers are posting recipes for homemade hand sanitizer and many companies are offering free learning subscriptions for families confined to home for awhile. Sometimes trouble can breed heroes and discouragement can spur hope.
So the opportunities remain for each of us to be vigilant for sure, but community- and other-minded, instead of the every-man/woman-for-him/her-self philosophy. The future of Coronavirus may be indeterminable, but this mama is designing a fun “home learning camp” page on social media for families who might like creative learning ideas. We can lead with fear or with faith and friendship. I am choosing the latter.