Warning: Trigger post ahead. I know discussing the pandemic is a sensitive topic for many but I work in healthcare, I have family members on both sides of the fence, and I believe there needs to be real change in our society.
In my last piece I discussed choosing to be better, choosing to do better and not let the bitterness of the year seep in. Today I saw a quote talking about the new year coming in and “giving 2020 the send off it deserves.” I found myself becoming increasingly angry the longer I thought about the seemingly innocuous words. I mean, who wouldn’t agree that we would like to put this time behind us? But there is so much wrong with that statement, I couldn’t wrap my head around it.
Saying things like “giving 2020 the send off it deserves” is really dangerous because it implies two things: 1. That this is just a rough patch of time and the problem will go away if we give it time, like the calendar turns to 2021 and we get a reprieve. 2. It removes all sense of personal accountability from this situation. This problem won’t be behind us until we make actual change, and until we all wake up and understand that we need do things differently, this story isn’t going to change any time soon. This pandemic isn’t something that will resolve itself if we ignore it. We will be living one giant groundhog day until we start to look at this situation differently.
We have a tendency to believe that we are never really at fault for anything. I mean, human nature, I know, and no one likes to take the hit for the team. The thing with a pandemic, however, is that every single one of us has to take the hit for the team or none of us gets anywhere. To put it plainly, until we all take the necessary steps (like masking and social distancing and not shopping unnecessarily) this disease will go nowhere. The disease doesn’t move itself, humans move it. So until we stop treating this crisis like this half-way pseudo scary (but mostly inconvenient) thing where we pretend we are sacrificing (but really we are trying to cling to everything we used to do), THIS ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE. And it sucks because the longer we live in that in between, the longer this stays around.
This is the realest example of how intertwined we all are, how my health depends on your actions. How my actions can hurt you. Thinking that we can move into a new year without understanding our personal impact is going to keep us rooted right where we are. We’ve been privileged enough to pretend that our wants are more important than other people’s needs. Those days are over. Your feelings do not outweigh my right to live without fear of catching this disease. Your “need” to see your friends doesn’t mean shit when I have to go to work and see the repercussions of this disease daily. Your tantrum about any inconvenience you’ve suffered does not outrank the people who have suffered real loss this year (jobs, families, homes, the ability to put food on the table, etc.).
I really do want us to move on to better times—I wish I could pretend this doesn’t exist. And hell yes, I’ve had moments of weakness where I wanted to go to the store just because I needed something different to do—I’ve even broken down and gone to Target. I’m not perfect. But I don’t want to raise my kid like this. He’s three years old and already knows that he can’t walk into a store without a mask on. He spent an entire summer out of the parks and away from his friends. No matter the personal stories I share, I know that things won’t be better until we really develop some self-awareness about our impact and social responsibility. Talking about changing the year like we change our underwear isn’t going to make anything go away. It won’t make anything different. Changing how we think and how we approach our lives is what will make a difference.
Side note: I know there wasn’t any harm meant with the post I read. I know it was meant as an inspirational quote—and there is value in that. I just think we need to be careful with how we phrase things because there is a lot at stake.