all of the selves we Have ever been
Recently, I wrote about good neighbors--
the people next door, across the street, in our own backyards.
With the volume of international trade and travel, and the reach of technology, the entire world is our neighborhood, and right now, all of our neighbors are hurting.
No one likes to feel helpless. Helplessness can lead to depression. In the face of helplessness and depression, anger can energize. But angry energy is not the kind of energy we need right now.
It does no good to demonize our neighbors when we must rely upon them for lifesaving goods and services, for economic stability, and for knowledge and experience to defeat the coronavirus. In the days to come, as we learn more, we may find that this virus was circulating before the first case was confirmed in China. We may find there is more to the story that was not immediately apparent.
Our neighbors in China, Italy, France and Spain, and all throughout the world are frightened and exhausted too. Many of the countries affected by the coronavirus lack the mighty resources of the United States. We will need to walk together with these neighbors on the long road to recovery.
As I watch the televised federal and state news conferences each day, I am awed by the intelligence and ingenuity of Americans. We have gifted men and women heading up the CDC, FDA, and CMS. We have remarkable, kind people in our state and local governments. These are people hidden from our view outside of emergencies and national events. Many of these American experts are relying upon the wisdom, experience and data received from our global neighbors.
We have unparalleled resources in this country. 3M can pump out 35 million N95 masks. The Navy can bring hospital ships to local ports. Hotels can be transformed into hospitals. How lucky are we in this state of emergency to have assets of such magnitude? Many of our global neighbors do not.
Perhaps this crisis will cause us all to be more grateful for how much we do have, and to ask ourselves some serious questions about the hands into which we place this abundance and our lives and our livelihoods.
Seeing, hearing and appreciating the experts that have surfaced during this pandemic, I ask myself if we want celebrities and “influencers” as leaders and decision makers in our social circles, workplaces, and government. Or do we want intelligent, articulate thinkers, planners and problem-solvers, people who understand science and data as well as human emotion and behavior? Do we want honest folks with a strong work ethic, or folks who drain us of time and energy because of the attention and adulation they require? You know what I am talking about here. We have all seen this growing dynamic in our social circles, work places, and government.
Social media has given rise to the age of celebrity, a desire to be seen and to be “liked.” People who have the largest following sell lots of books and end up in positions of authority regardless of credentials. I have often heard people being interviewed as “experts” and wondered about their education or experience outside of Hollywood or a wildly popular YouTube video or blog. Because someone is popular, does that make them an expert on parenting, health, race relations, or national emergencies? These people “influence” others about important life matters. Should we be more discerning about the people to whom we pay attention and to the advice we follow?
When this crisis is past, we want to be able to say we did our part, that we were our best selves. To do that, we need to be both good neighbors and discerning citizens—like it or not.