In this time of fear, we all need each other

Published 8:23 am Wednesday, March 25, 2020

After the stock market collapsed in late 1929, many people in the United States lost their jobs. By 1932, one in four Americans was suffering from lack of food.
Today, many people have lost their jobs. Many are working from home. Schools have closed as have colleges. Churches are doing services online. And, many grocery store shelves are empty of such items as toilet paper, hand sanitizer, bread, meat, and other items.
Some stores are opening later and closing earlier.
Because of social distancing, restaurants are closed except for drive-through and curbside service. Gyms are closed.
Courthouses in the area are closed to the public, and even our newspaper office is off-limits to the general public.
Retirement plans are taking a hit as the stock market bottoms out.
Yes, people are worried. If not about getting sick, then about their paycheck, is there enough food in the pantry, and where to go to get a loaf of bread or a roll of toilet paper.
This is not the America we are used to.
Frightened people sometimes make good decisions. They lay in flashlight batteries prior to a hurricane, say. But they also do things that put themselves and others at greater risk. When people clean shelves of masks and hand sanitizers, they make it more likely that they and others will find themselves in medical facilities that need more of these supplies than they can get. And when they lay in a six-month supply of toilet paper? They leave other people scrambling to find it.
Hospital administrators are another group who find themselves in binds. Do they delay hospitalization or surgery for other patients in order to serve more coronavirus patients?
As adults, we’re supposed to know better than to give in to our urges in counterproductive ways. Buying up whatever makes you feel better is like trying to cure alcoholism by having another drink. You might stave off your craving for a drink, but you are making matters worse for yourself and others around you.
Social distancing has been stressed over and over during the last week or so. That is why there is no school, no church, and people are working from home. Social distancing is good, and we should do it.
But we have to be aware of the cost of isolation — and it’s not about the stock market, the economic impact, the pricey stimulus package, or the plunging stock market.
It’s about isolating ourselves from others. Before the coronavirus, people were spending increasingly less time interacting with neighbors and friends and engaging in their communities and more time alone.
But, now is the time as a community we should be coming together to serve each other. Look around you. Is there an elderly person nearby? Take time to check on them. Share some of that toilet paper you have stockpiled with someone who doesn’t have any. Also, leave some of that bread on the shelf and that extra package of hamburger meat on the shelf for someone who needs it.
Bake a cake and share it with your neighbors.
We all need each other, and that will never change.
“Fear and panic are dangerous,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization. “It’s fine to be concerned and worried, but let’s calm down and do the right things.”

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