The last few days have felt like months. So much change. So little clarity. So few leaders with the presence of mind to adequately prepare the public for what is currently happening, what may happen next, and what each of us can do to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.
For those of us who have been studying and attempting to address the impacts of system failures in various spheres- including social services, education, climate, economic structures, law & order, etc., this may not be completely unfamiliar but the urgency we’ve felt for so long about the issue/s we’ve been working on is now being felt by nearly everyone at once.
That knot in the pit of your stomach. That nagging voice that says we’re running out of time. That sense of dread when our politicians spread misinformation, disinformation, and outright lies about something you understand better than they seem to. Some of us have become accustomed to these things and developed our capacity to transform our worldview, connections, and involvements in response.
The rest of the world is awakening but, instead of gradually informing themselves, joining existing groups, and feeling empowered to act, they have been abruptly compelled to consider things that were unthinkable just a week or two ago. It’s jarring and disorienting. Nothing makes sense. This kind of confusion, insecurity, and instability is potentially much more dangerous than the virus. Folks who are in this state of mind are incredibly vulnerable and may become desperate enough to act out violently or they may isolate and succumb to despair.
I, for one, would like to advance some alternatives to prevent either of these outcomes. If you are reading this and have ideas or advice from your lived experience to share, as well, please do so in the comments.
- Seek out factual information about COVID-19 to counteract misinformation, rumors, and conspiracy theories. A good place to start is this video and the CDC Website.
- Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings – if you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or any other emotional health challenge, consider exploring these online resources. It is tremendously important to take care of yourself and your loved ones, first and foremost.
- Reach out to folks you know who are engaged and involved in climate and/or social justice activism and discuss possible opportunities to join them in the work- especially as it relates to the current public health crisis. If you don’t have any activist acquaintances, a large number of rapid-response groups have been formed on Facebook and other social media to assist neighbors in need. There are likely several in your area to join.
- Explore the recommended resources listed on this site and/or search for others based on your particular area/s of interest.
I think we’ve probably all heard the oft-repeated trope about the Chinese word for ‘crisis,’ wēijī, being composed of characters representing ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity.’ The original meaning, according to linguists and native Chinese speakers, however, is “danger at a point of juncture.” I think there is value in considering our current point of juncture- this moment in time- as very dangerous, indeed, and it is absolutely critical that we consider how we respond very carefully.
We must be mindful that the ones who will suffer most during this outbreak are those who are already suffering due to systemic greed, oppression, and lack of investment. Those of us who are able to get through the next few weeks and months in relative comfort have a responsibility to seek out ways to act. Not as saviors- but as neighbors, friends, members of a global family.
Therein lies our opportunity.