“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done”
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of artificial intelligence, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of opportunism, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Might, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of confusion, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, it all changed in the blink of an eye, in short, the period was one previously unfathomed and many perilous warnings fell mostly on deaf ears.
Although I have taken great liberties with a highly acclaimed Dickens masterpiece, it was the inspiration for a glimmer of hope to those who’ve found themselves trapped in a tale of fear and confusion during these troubling times.
Every person on the planet has been impacted by the pandemic, and while each of us has our own unique account, this is a tale of two opposing outlooks and how one might contemplate this challenging predicament.
It would be inflammatory for anyone to infer or demand you ought to be living and reacting in certain ways. No one should be measuring success on whether they’ve been able to keep working versus those who have not. There were inequities long before COVID-19, and has been frequently confirmed by many officials, this pandemic has only exacerbated those injustices.
The ability to work is only one small factor in how people are managing this traumatic event. Suffering the loss of a friend or loved one has been an outcome for countless unsuspecting victims and survivors, which is often more traumatic than losing employment.
Many countries are enforcing stay-at-home type orders, causing people to feel confined and acting out against family members, friends, and partners in behaviors they’d never dreamed could be possible. The psychological dilemmas endured by both children and adults are puzzling and overwhelming mental health professionals.
What appears to be weighing the most on the minds of many people are: when will this be over, and what will be the new normal – intensifying the emotional drain and toll with which this virus has vexed us all.
If there were one piece of advice I would implore, it would be this:
Do whatever you can not to fall into a state of despair.
Everyone is currently confronting difficulties and while their degrees vary extensively, fight against becoming trapped by this terminally disheartening emotional state.
At times it appears the obstacles and hurdles are endless, and prevailing over one only seems to plant several more in your path. Despair takes the proverbial wind out of your sails and leads to despondency and hopelessness. If you find yourself falling into its trap, please seek help. Call a friend or family member. Seek out help in your community or even your local government. There are many organizations who’ve stepped up their efforts working with local and private companies to help those in need.
Some people are struggling with shameful feelings about filing for unemployment benefits for the first time ever. This is not a failure. There is no shame to be shouldered. These are unparalleled times and nothing which your actions alone created. If it helps, think about all the times your kindness encouraged others and consider this a payback for you.
Our attitudes dictate and often control our intentions. In the darkest corners of our dejected mindset, search first for the figurative light switch. Someone else may need to flip it for you, but a negative outlook compels us more into darkness, further convincing us of no possible escape.
There was an inspiring story this week which was another motivation for this article. A few years ago, the Afghan Dreamers, an all-girls robotics team, competed globally and, at Robotex International, stunned the world. Recently, due to shortages in their country, they were asked to develop ventilators. Utilizing an M.I.T. design, their first task was to figure out how to construct them from locally sourced components. Electronic stores are unheard of so most of their parts came from Toyota Corollas which is a popular car in their country. Although their quest is ongoing, their outlook is positive and they are determined to be victorious.
No doubt there are thousands of similar stories inspired by COVID-19. Although many of us are focused on keeping food on the table and the lights on, this story is meant to exhibit the human spirit and ingenuity. It’s meant to keep hope alive, especially for those who are extremely overwhelmed and contemplating giving up.
We must not let despair defeat our spirit nor hopelessness overcome our soul. The one thing we all can change is our outlook. It can seem impossible for some who remain isolated, but it may be one of the only respites available.
Everyone is essential and we should begin by building a mutual respect for that understanding. Although some were prohibited from working, when things begin to open up, let us realize their work IS essential to them and to the common good of all.
It is going to be a challenging and demanding road to recovery. Extraordinary effort is necessary and huge sacrifices will be required. A true spirit of cooperation should be the primary objective, beginning first in your community and reaching out from there.
A new kind of collaboration will inspire innovative and imaginative programs getting everyone working and feeling productive. Cooperation – not fierce competition – is the formula for reigniting a solid foundation of continuity and whatever the new normal will bring.
If there is one universal ideal COVID-19 has shown us, it’s to have a better understanding of the sanctity of life, a greater appreciation for nature, and the little things often taken for granted or dismissed. If globally, we can all learn this one important lesson, then it will be a far, far better thing we do than we have ever done; it will be a far, far better world than we have ever known.