We’re almost at the last quarter of 2020 and I don’t think any of us will be sorry to see it go. Everyone is tired of hearing about masks, fear and social distance. It’s exhausting, and sometimes when we’re exhausted, we’re not at our best.
When we start shaming and blaming each other for getting sick, it becomes kind of alarming just how far from our best we have become. It’s time for everyone to slow down a little, take a breath and really look around.
Whether we want to accept it or not, people are doing the best they can.
No, the best someone else can do isn’t necessarily equal to the best that you can do. Fair and equal are not the same. Plus, did someone tell you somewhere along the way that life was fair?
It isn’t fair for young people to be deprived of each other, when they so desperately need to interact. It isn’t fair that some people will get Covid and suffer serious repercussions. It isn’t fair that thousands of businesses have or will close as a result of this pandemic. It isn’t fair that close to ten million people will die this year from cancer. It isn’t fair that over 3 million children die from hunger related deaths each year. There are lots of things that are not fair. Being more judgemental than kind doesn’t make any of them better.
It’s normal to want to find someone to blame when things go wrong. It’s a way of coping and feeling in control. That’s why scapegoating has maintained its popularity for thousands of years. In fact the current president of the United States has a particular fondness for scapegoating (hopefully you see where I’m going with this…)
I think the opposite of scapegoating is empathy. I also think that empathy is what we collectively need right now.
Blaming someone for getting sick is fucked. It’s fucked whether the illness is lung cancer or AIDS or Covid. Sure, some people get sick because they’re not careful, they have bad habits or they’re careless.
But, how can you know who the careless ones are? Are you so free of any errors of judgement (especially in your teens and early twenties) that you’ve been appointed as judge and jury?
Maybe that 20 year old got Covid because they were bar hopping all weekend, or maybe they got Covid when they were working the night shift at your local convenience store, or maybe they got it at an AA meeting where they were trying to get clean and get their life back on track, or maybe they caught it on the bus when they were dropping their kid off at daycare. The point is that you don’t know.
As a first response to each other, the best default is always kindness and empathy. I want people to give me the benefit of the doubt, I want people to assume that I am doing what I think is best (even if they don’t agree with me). Isn’t that what you want too?
I don’t have Covid, but I might get it, so might you, so might someone that you love. Think about that. Really imagine feeling that you have to justify why you are sick to everyone you know, while maintaining quarantine, juggling your family and possibly struggling to breathe. It’s just too much.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
If you hear of someone who is sick, try to start with feeling sorry for them instead of angry at them. Try to understand that you don’t know what it’s like to be that person.
Even if you know for sure that they became ill because they were out and socializing, there are still many things you don’t know. You don’t know how hard it is for them to be alone. You don’t know if they suffer from depression or other mental health conditions. You don’t know if they were out with friends because the alternative was just too hard to bear.
Since you don’t know, turn your default to kindness. Reset your brain to a place that allows for compassion. There is already too much fear clogging our airways, let’s stop adding judgement, shame and blame.
We each have the power to make a positive change by the ways we think, act and react. It’s time to take that power and channel it into the change we want to see in the world. None of us can control covid-19 or the way in which the world is reacting to it. What we can change is how we are to each other. What we can change is the love and acceptance we feel from our community.
A kind word is a good place to start.