The tensions are palpable, so much so they are now impossible to ignore. And they aren’t all exactly the same – everyone you see is carrying a burden you know nothing about. Lack of resources, sick family, loneliness from isolation, anxiety of the uncertainty to come, the list goes on.
I was out grabbing a few essentials yesterday, and amidst the flood of UPS and FEDEX trucks on the road making up for all of the stores shutting down – one of the biggest upheavals of our day to day during this time – a knot formed in my stomach.
Things are not good. They’re going from bad to worse, and there is simply no getting around it at this point. The economy is beginning to crumble like we haven’t seen before, small family businesses are becoming obsolete, people are losing their jobs right and left (and those who haven’t lost their jobs have their hands tied with a lack of childcare).
It’s all too much. All for reasonable measure, no doubt. But it’s still okay to say – it just feels like too much.
As I looked around at all the cars on the road, though, into the faces of the people in them, I realized something else, too – their faces matched mine. It was almost as if they were hearing, listening, feeling their ways right into my head and heart. And you know what?
There isn’t one human who isn’t being affected by this terrible, strange invasion of every sense of normal we knew even just weeks ago.
Because the reality is that as different as we all are, there is one thing every one of us has in common, and that is our humanity. Our humanity that at its core is much more humble, more more limited, much more imperfect than we lead ourselves to believe here and now in the 21st century. In this day and age of incredible technology and access to anything and everything we may need at any given moment, we have become very good at deceiving ourselves into thinking we are immune to one of our most basic humans needs: each other. But in doing so, we are denying the reality of our very being. This works temporarily for our mental and emotional needs because we can hide those from the naked eye – a little concealer here, a fake smile there.
But enter a worldwide pandemic (nod to you, Covid-19), and it’s hard to look another person in the eye with any sort of agenda, be it social, political, religious, parenting, etc. Because all you’re looking at, really, is another human.
Another human just like you.
And it’s blatant. What is every store sold out of right now?
Toilet paper. Lysol. Soap.
Because it turns out we’re actually a lot more similar than we think to our neighbor – the atheist, the feminist, the rich one, the poor one, the preacher one, the gay one, the straight one, the staunch republican, the staunch democrat.
Every one of us needs. Not one human doesn’t.
And to need is a vulnerable thing because we associate it with weakness in our culture.
But what if we stopped projecting that tainted view of being in need onto one another, and instead offered it some understanding, some empathy, some compassion? Because we’ve all been there. Heck, we’re all there right now. And some a lot more so than others and for reasons that are way outside of their control.
Let us keep moving forward. We can. If there was ever a time to lay down our pride and comfort to save and support one another (literally), it is now. Let us be kind, let us be understanding, let us be generous, let us be self-sacrificial in the ways that we are able to.
May we bear with each other’s grief with extended empathy and understanding, and when your eyes meet those of another human’s, smile before you look away. Connect. Remind people they are seen. Of all the needs we don’t have the power to meet right now, this is one that we do.
And I believe that we can.