This week has been a test of the notion of holding multiple truths and various forms of love. The recent news of COVID-19/coronavirus has forced many people to think hard and to consider a lot of information. Message boards are filled with threads asking for opinions. Families are having to make choices about whether to send children to school or keep them home. Organizations are considering whether to keep or cancel events, shifting services or keep them as is. All of this is mind-boggling. We make choices based on what information we have, which often feels incomplete and inadequate.
I live in the epicenter of the US outbreak, Seattle WA. The 24-hr news cycle is full of unparalleled stories – another person confirmed ill, another death, events canceled, hospitals overwhelmed, and in many cases people trying to continue to go on with life.
Even with the uncertainty love is coming through. A friend posted how she’s checking in on her parents who live a state away and asking them to prioritize their health by staying home and if they do go out just to go out for walks around the block.
Another friend shared how her father was excited to see her when she got home, but then he told her “Wait!” and then wiped her down with a disinfectant before she came into the house – extreme, albeit wet, love. My friend rolled her eyes a bit at her dad.
In other places, community love is showing up by people saying “Wait, just because it is a crisis doesn’t mean you get to bypass community input.” People are standing up to ensure justice doesn’t get trampled on despite these unprecedented times.
Educators, medical professionals, and anyone who continues to serve their community in a community capacity are showing love. They are recognizing a need to keep going despite the unknown.
The week has made me think about how we can hold multiple truths at the same time. I can recognize the outbreak is in my area, but also recognize there are many ways to be cautious, concern, but move forward. The number of infected people continues to climb and will do so since there are better testing and surveillance, and while that is scary maybe it is also a good thing since people are receiving medical care.
It is true the Chinese and Asian communities are being hit harder with the outbreak. My colleagues in the Asian and Chinese communities have reported outright racism and discrimination their clients and friends have faced. A friend who lives in New Jersey and is Korean American told me a contractor who came over to her house and asked which Chinese restaurant she liked. My friend retorted “Oh, honey chill I don’t have coronavirus, but thanks for caring.” Would he have asked that of a non-Asian, probably not — racial profiling. It is also true we need people to visit Asian owned restaurants and stores.
Business is down as more and more companies are telling their employees to work remotely, and while this is prudent for many it also means hourly workers who rely upon others having full employment will be hurt harder (e.g. baristas, event staff, restaurant staff, etc.).
These multiple truths are causing cognitive dissonence for many of us. It is scary but we can also be ok with a little scared if we show each other some compassion and love.
Who Needs More Love
We also need to consider who needs more support right now. Advice coming from public health is to encourage people over the age of 60 to limit their exposure to groups. While this may be prudent for their physical health isolation and loneliness can be dangerous for seniors. Check-in on seniors in ways that keep them physically safe, but attend to their mental health needs.
Right now, a lot of the information coming out of government agencies is in English only. If you are multi-lingual help to get accurate information out to language-based communities so they understand what is happening and how to their families safe. At the same time use your advocacy power to encourage government to translate documents and provide interpretation services. My friend James also reminded me that the groups who can get translated materials are not the ones we need to worry about, we need to really make sure we’re reaching out to the groups that are so small translators and interpreters are very hard to find – they are the ones who are often the most isolated.
Love is possible.
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