It is incredible how something so unseen, and tasteless can have such a significant impact on our lives … the Coronavirus, COVID-19. We know so little about this virus, except that it can live on hard surfaces for up to 72 hours. We have no vaccine but we do recognize it’s more contagious than the flu, and it seems to have a greater negative impact on older adults.
I am angry at our government leaders and their enablers in dealing with this pandemic. The government was unresponsive to this emerging global crisis. On February 28th, POTUS 45 called COVID-19 a hoax. COVID-19 had been in America for well over a month, but full-scale testing is just beginning. Potus 45 declared a national emergency on Friday, March 13th, but said, “I don’t take responsibility at all,” Trump said in response to a question about the lack of tests.
There has been more interest in a buzzing economy and getting re-elected than in the health and well being of citizens. We are not only experiencing a health epidemic but a failed leadership epidemic.
Crisis reveals character. It does not build character.
“In a crisis, the only asset you have is your credibility.” – Paul Volcker, former American Economist and Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Credibility is the currency of leadership. Credibility is founded on trust, expertise, and vitality.
This is the second pandemic in my life. HIV/AIDS was the first, and it seemed far less troublesome and worrisome than COVID-19. That pandemic touched my life as I lost my brother-in-law to AIDS back in 1988. Cancer is still a threat. People are dying from drug overdoses and car accidents. Heart attacks have not stopped. People continue to be wounded and die from gunshots.
I am angry with those who have let fear dictate their behavior, such as hoarding.
I am angry at people who have lost the ability to listen to different points of view and not take it personally. I am angry at those who are unwilling to compromise and act with compassion as well as civility.
This virus is causing us to isolate and so many things seem to have come to a halt: personal trips, conferences, concerts, and sporting events. Going out to eat or going to the movies is off-limits. Even going to the YMCA for exercise may not be a good idea. This has all come fast, and it’s left many of us stunned. We’ve not experienced this in our lifetime. Economists are predicting this will be more than a recession. The economy will grind to a halt. It’s like being the middle of strange land without a map or paths forward. This is a time of full-scale VUCAs…Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity/Chaos, and Ambiguity.
Our lives are in one another’s hands. You may save the life of someone you will never meet by just washing your hands. While we are to refrain from touching, we can use our hearts to reach out to one another by the actions we take and the words we say.
Here are the silver linings I am trying to lean into to overcome my anger:
I yearn for the day after 9/11 when we were more compassionate to one another. I am working to be a 9/12 person. I am going to let people merge on the highway. I am going to hold doors open, I am looking for more ways to lend a hand to those in need. We owe it to ourselves and each other to be better.
The Sabbath is a day of rest and unplugging. It is a time to self-reflect, meditate, and build community within our homes and then with others. It is time to nurture our souls.
I am reacting to this pandemic as a huge Sabbath. I see this virus and the process of dealing with it as an opportunity to learn. I believe COVID-19 can push our reset button to be more inclusive and understanding. I also think this virus can help us create constructive conversations about affordable healthcare for all, especially the 27.5 million who are uninsured.
I look forward to looking back on the pandemic and feeling good about the breakthroughs and connections we made. I look forward to better leadership. I am hopeful.