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We’re all vulnerable to the virus

Weekend voices: Susan Bigler

I’ve been dreading writing this column. We’ve already been saturated with all the news there could be about the virus that has engulfed our every waking moment.

I really wish there was another current topic to address, but everything right now hinges on the virus; its symptoms, its victims, its effect on the economy, how it’s put people out of work, how our health care providers struggle to prepare and treat, how our state governors are having to compete for much needed supplies, and how to social distance. We are coached on ways to stay safe and cope in order to mediate the spread. That’s all there is right now.

Some are ignoring the news.

They are not heeding the advice that reliable experts are giving. How they can avoid the information? I don’t know. How they can scoff it off, I can understand. I understand that the advice they are listening to comes from sources that have interests other than the general wellbeing of citizens.

Attempts to gaslight, minimize, blame, or profit off this crisis will not help us get through this. Listening to a rambling President Trump for two hours won’t help. Listening to the accompanying experts, Dr. Anthony Fauci in particular, will help. Listening to our governor will help.

Others are not ignoring, but selectively avoiding the news. We can only take so much. We need to keep stress to a minimum to keep our immune systems working the best they can. We have enough stress coming at us individually that must be dealt with, some have financial worries, some health worries, some have children to teach at home. By taking in a limited dose of news daily, we can still stay informed of necessary things, such as the latest CDC recommendations regarding protective items and hygiene, and what places and services are available to provide necessities.

By this time, we all should know we are to practice “social distancing.” Someone said it should be called “physical distancing” because we definitely need to stay social — just at a distance. Many of us should consider ourselves lucky to have internet, which is still limited in some areas of our district.

Candidate for our 23rd congressional district, Tracy Mitrano, has been advocating for expanded broadband internet for our district from the beginning of her campaign. Access to internet is crucial for small businesses now more than ever when work is being done remotely, and orders are being placed and filled via email. Internet is also a great source of entertainment and diversion. Social media is filled with greetings of support and even humor (which is very healthy — a good LOL boosts the immune system immensely). It can also have bad information, false claims and profiteers. It’s good to stick to our friend list, and connect frequently with people we care about. It’s a good time to avail of the offers out there from different entertainment media. I just subscribed to CuriosityStream at a discount, for instance.

There are many options for online games that can be played solo or with others. I’ve learned a very important word this way. Engaging in the Scrabble-like Words With Friends has taught me the word “QI” which has an even more important meaning right now, besides its obvious use as an easy go-to for the letter Q when it’s impossible to get a U. The word QI means the energy in everything.

In Chinese, it means “life force.” We should make it a point now to get our dose of life force however we can. It has been reported that jigsaw puzzles are getting sold out everywhere. They can be very absorbing. Who would have thought they would be so popular again!

Family is even more dear, now that we can’t be near. Friends and neighbors are more appreciated as we associate from a phone or from 6 feet away. But we humans are inventive and adaptable. Look how the late night hosts are continuing their shows from their homes, interviewing guests from theirs. Folks are celebrating birthdays with drive-by caravans. Our pets are even helping by doing “doggie deliveries”, taking items across that 6 foot divide. Home seamstresses are making masks to help the short supply.

I have notes that address the issues and circumstances that have made this pandemic harder on us. I’m choosing not to go there right now because, simply, nothing can be done about that now, it will be for history to judge. Our best path forward is to support the distancing and stay home as much as possible, that is how we can help. Essential workers have to be out there so we don’t need to be. Let’s make their paths as safe as possible, that is how we can thank them.

Let’s not fall prey to the blaming; the preparation for this was not the fault of the democrats for distracting the president with impeachment. Sen. Charles Schumer in fact asked that a public health emergency be declared in late January.

This is not the fault of people of Chinese descent. And, the idea of sacrificing our older population is abhorrent. What is wrong with the individuals who suggest that? Not only for the value of their experience and wisdom, the greatest generation and the baby boomers have worked their entire lives and contributed to the U.S. economy for all those years. They now deserve to be protected so they can enjoy some of that well-deserved retirement. Besides, who better to keep commerce going?

Retired folks don’t save anymore, they are spending their savings, on all the businesses that are now hurting the most like restaurants and travel. If there ever was a reason to lay aside differences, it is now. The virus does not discriminate. It doesn’t recognize man-made borders. It doesn’t care whether our president saw it coming or not, it’s here. And because it can spread unbeknownst to its carrier, we have to be very vigilant.

We can find positivity regardless in discovering new hobbies, or finally having time to do that decluttering, or reading those books that have been patiently waiting to be opened, or getting creative with recipes that use what we have in our cupboard. We are lucky that we live in an area where spring is beautiful and we can find places to enjoy the outdoors where we can still keep our distance.

Survival is the basic human instinct. Long ago, our ancestors found out how to survive by banding together in social units, so we have evolved as social beings. We have also developed altruism, where we do things not for ourselves, but for the good of others.

It is uplifting to see, amidst the bad news, the anecdotes of the works of good Samaritans. The initial hoarding was done out of fear. As we settle down to this new reality, that will subside as we find ways to cope. It has become cliche already but “we are all in this together” and if we help each other out, we will make it through this together.

Susan Bigler is a Sheridan resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com

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