That one-word question that’s always asked when life’s apple cart is upended.
People do not like change. When fear is added to change, it creates behavior and attitudes that manifest in folks who otherwise are levelheaded.
Throughout history, change and fear have joined forces many times.
The Plague, smallpox, polio, Ebola, and other diseases threatened and took lives.
Wars throughout history affected and changed families forever. Just in my lifetime, I saw those who served in Vietnam come home suffering the effects of Agent Orange and PTSD. Some came home to a divorce, while others had already received their Dear John letter while still overseas.
During my grandparents’ generation, the Great Depression left families to survive on basic levels that we can only imagine.
As I write this, most of us have been asked to self-quarantine due to the coronavirus. We’ve been told to stay home and only go out for necessities, and to avoid large groups of people. Most of us are compliant.
We sit and watch television in a climate-controlled home and scroll through social media to check in with friends.
We are lucky. We aren’t sacrificing much compared to those who lived before us who truly suffered. There’s a major difference between then and now. We have better technology and better-educated people.
Our president and other world leaders are appointing, authorizing and funding the research and testing required to find treatment protocols and, hopefully soon, a vaccine for the virus.
Some who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus show few or no symptoms, while others contract it and get well. Many have and will die. There’s no way to know how each person who’s infected will react. People are different and so are their immune systems.
I’m highly allergic to poison ivy. During one of my worst bouts when it made its way to my lungs, I asked the nurse what they did a century ago for people in my predicament.
“They buried them,” was her response.
My wife can pull up poison ivy with her bare hands with no negative results.
We are early in many facets of the current situation, which will play out. We may be in our homes for a while. We are already finding options other than television for entertainment. Families are rediscovering games, puzzles and the art of conversation.
But most of us are not suffering like those who lived before us.
I see what we are experiencing as an opportunity. An opportunity to use our skills to help others, and a chance for them to do the same for us.
I plan to use it as an opportunity to spend time reading the Bible, which is filled with great advice from the Man upstairs.
The Bible often mentions doing what you can for others. I recently had lunch with a friend and we discussed how to match individual skill sets with the needs of people we know and people we don’t. It’s a work in progress. Similar groups have since popped up online, including on Facebook. I encourage you to seek out opportunities to help while following the CDC guidelines for protecting yourself by not being around lots of other people.
But do stay connected with friends and family. Social media is a temporary substitute for real human interaction. I beg everyone to use these conversations as a means to make new friends and find ways to help each other — and not argue about politics.
Back to the question of “Why?“
Sometimes there’s no clear answer. But there are always clear opportunities.
Let’s look for them, create them, and act on them. For each other.
John’s book, “Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now,” and his new book, “Write of Passage Volume II,” are available on Amazon and on John’s website at www.TheCountryWriter.com.