(March 30, 2020 / JNS) In a stunning turn of history, a virus has united humanity. Suddenly, every human is fighting the same enemy. Tribal and sectarian rivalries that go back centuries have been put on hold. Even vicious political battles don’t have the same sting.
We are all one against the coronavirus.
We are not one, however, in terms of how we experience this crisis. We are many. We are diverse. We are different.
Some of us have lost businesses, or jobs. Some of us have a family member in intensive care or know someone who has just tested positive, or someone who died.
Some of us are on the front lines—nurses, doctors, medical support staff, ambulance drivers, etc.—risking our own lives to protect others.
Some of us must go to work every day to keep food markets, pharmacies and other essential services opened.
Some of us—educators, activists, preachers, entertainers—are transitioning our work to online.
Some of us are employees hoping that “going remote” will not endanger our livelihood.
Some of us are parents who must scramble to handle kids who are home all day instead of at school.
And some of us are journalists and storytellers trying to keep up with an enormous story that seems to only get bigger each day.
For those stuck at home who are not suffering additional stress or economic pain, there is the luxury of delving into the disruptions to everyday life, and, yes, even the boredom of being in lockdown.
In terms of attitudes and general reactions to the crisis, I’ve noticed three personality types.
The first is the “Oh My Gods.” This group lives in a state of constant anxiety. They can’t believe this nightmare is happening. They spend lots of time watching the news and are extremely diligent about taking precautions. They freak out a little more each day.
The second group is the “Double Downs.” This group refuses to let anything overwhelm them. The most important thing is to always look in control. Faced with a monumental crisis that can throw them off-balance, they double down on their productivity. “As busy as ever!” they like to say.
The third group is the “Dazed and Confused.” These are people who like to think and analyze stuff. The problem is that this event is too big and moving too quickly. They’re having a hard time wrapping their arms around it. So, they wallow in the immenseness of the times, more stunned than frightened.
If you’re like me, you have a little of all three. I oscillate between the paralysis of fear, the desire for control and surrender to the overwhelming.
Regardless of our differences, during these quarantine days many of us do share something in common: extra time.
We wonder: What should we do with this time? Should we get into a hobby, work out, write a journal, volunteer to help others, take online classes, catch up on Netflix, bond with our families?
The options are many, but I’d like to offer one more: stop and reflect.
We can use some of the time that has been forced on us by the lockdown to look inward, to ask questions like: How can I use this crisis to come out a better person?
We each can take a little moment each day to reflect on our behavior, our character, our flaws; on those we have needlessly hurt or neglected; on areas of ourselves we’ve always wanted to work on.
If we can do an honest self-appraisal during this unprecedented global time-out, we may come out of this darkness with healthier relationships, both with ourselves and with others. We’ll be more likely to replace anger with understanding, yelling with listening, apathy with compassion, contempt with empathy.
This virus is so evil and destructive, we should seek not simply to defeat it, but to come out ahead after we do.
A humanity full of better people would seal our victory.
David Suissa is editor-in-chief and publisher of Tribe Media Corp and Jewish Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.
This article was first published by the Jewish Journal.
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