Behind the signs signifying caution people at risk sheltering in place here, there live people. Humans with lives they aren't quite willing to sacrifice to a capitalistic god called the Dow. People who care and who matter.
As one of these behind the signs, I am concerned that a new wheelchair that was fought for, waited for, and ordered now finally approved. It was to be a flagship of new aspects of increased mobility. Now it looms as a possible red flag if I were to become ill, that my life is not as valuable as someone else's.
I know that IF I were to get this virus, there would be a decision made about my life. That decision would be based on factors I have no control of and would be made by a person I have no ability to influence. The choice will be whether I am deserving of ventilation, of the most basic needs: Air to breathe and a way to breathe it.
As we huddle behind our signed doors, we weigh every possible action against the desire to be alive.
The luxury of picking out my own groceries or medicine is gone for now. It could mean increasing my exposure to a virus that could kill me. It is time to put aside my pride and desires to have those special things that make me smile and be thankful for a web full of recipes at my disposal and a love for cooking and baking.
Behind the signs, friends who have never been or can never be the proverbial "worker" are being selected as people who are in no need of relief. Anyone who has tried to live on SSI would argue that is not in any way true. College students already struggling would chime in as well. Grocery prices don't ask whether you've worked last year or if you rely on your parent's taxes for financial aid for school. Shelves empty of the only food an injured digestive tract can tolerate don't care either. Going hungry is a real possibility for both populations while the young, vital, fearful workers stock up and hoard supplies.
Is this the country I live in? Is this the world today? How do we value life? How do we put a price on a person? Call it eugenics, call it survival of the fittest, I call it an absence of compassion, of that most basic need, empathy.
I've been using this time to create and value the creations of other artists, writers, and musicians. I feel a creative energy growing that is undeniable. I feel it in fits and starts of poems and essays. I also feel a growing appreciation of artists in peril. The trepidation is like a million second shoes waiting to drop. The energy is palpable.
The artists and others in peril are real people. They are in the fight for their lives.
Enjoying creations by artists we have already lost in the short few weeks since this scourge began as well as those still well in the fight is one way of coping. Spending a quiet morning rediscovering John Prine on YouTube whilst praying for his speedy recovery felt like a productive way to use my time and energy. That same morning singer-songwriter, Allan Merrill, the man who wrote, "I Love Rock n Roll," a song that had a profound effect on my musical tastes and lifestyle, passed through the veil.
Death can seem cruel. This virus seems like it has us all in its crosshairs and it is an untenable unease.
Reports and rumors sourced from social media, news outlets and briefings. But my heart hurts when I hear of people being described as numbers. I'm waiting for the stories, the storytellers that will expertly weave the memories of this current trauma into a tapestry of empathy so that we, as a nation and a world can begin the slow process of grieving.
I am one of the protected. One sheltering in place. I am one of the ones living behind a sign on her door. Please do not enter. Don't even knock and involve the dogs. Please DO text me. Please ask if we can chat!
I've learned over these last few months that I like to see other people's faces. Sometimes a text or emoji just isn't enough. Especially with grandchildren-I hope they video call more and more of them learn how to! And I don't care if you forgot to brush your hair, I probably have bed head as well.
Let's not even get into the pants situation.
During the first 10 days of my social distancing, I was more generous in the distances I was keeping. Now I seriously contemplate whether I will ever embrace another human being without quickly reaching for an alcohol-based gel to disinfect my digits with. Who wants to feel like they caused someone else to have to clean? We all do though.
That's why we hide ourselves inside our homes behind these signs. I hope and pray as this seemingly demonic scourge winds itself over our world that we each will make the right choices for humanity.
I've never seen the world in more black and white. Hoarding, extortion and gross minimization of the threat whilst willing to sacrifice our meekest are just some of the actions that remind me that true evil is afoot in this world.
Yet this illness has opened up the opportunity for the largest displays of compassion I could think possible. One of the most generous forms of benevolence towards those of us in the most danger, is for the public to follow shelter in place suggestions where there are not yet orders to do so.
Don't leave if you do not absolutely need to. Please make it safer for all of us hiding behind the signs.
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