Communities need to be brave in the face of an outbreak
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
It's almost impossible to estimate the number of recent press releases and public statements that have began with phrases like "In these unprecedented times," "in these uncertain times" and "in these unprecedented and uncertain times." We can all feel the gravity of the coronavirus crisis weighing on our hearts with all its girth, but it's become clear that weight is bearing down on our community quite a bit more now that officials have confirmed a case of COVID-19 in Dickinson County.
I know there is fear.
We see your comments. We hear the rumors. We're aware of the scuttlebutt. Some folks are pointing fingers pretty confidently at some particular people they feel are responsible for our local case, so we want to be clear: This paper has no intention of publishing unsubstantiated claims. It's a practice beneath reliable journalists, and it's absolutely unacceptable in times of crisis. But more over, blame will not bring this community through "these unprecedented times."
It's both natural and easy to turn to blame in an attempt to soothe our fear, but let's not do that. Let's be better than that. There is no need to assign blame. It's a hollow victory, which simply gives our anxiety a name and perhaps a face on which to focus. There is however a need to try even harder to keep ourselves from becoming unwitting carriers who go about delivering the unwanted gift of coronavirus to those near us.
You see, when fear cripples us — makes us feel as though we've been backed into a corner — it brings out the worst in us. We blame, we point fingers and hoard paper products but, for all our effort, it will never help us get out of that corner. Fear is more malleable than we think. It can be grasped. It can be harnessed. It can be squeezed so tightly with our fists that it is compressed, and it can be bridled so as to become something useful. We rarely have such strength on our own, but we certainly have it as a community.
We're greater as a whole than we are as individuals.
So cover your cough, wash your hands, second guess whether you really need to run that errand and encourage those around you to do the same (I'm a nail-biter — feel free to call me out for touching my face). It is these things which will keep us healthy. It is these things which will keep us safe. I would like to believe that when those in our area attempt to point the finger, they are actually attempting to ask a question. They want to know what could have been done better so we as a whole can avoid the same mistake.
Well folks, we already know how to combat it and keep it from spreading. Having a confirmed case doesn't change that. Best practices remain best practices. So grab hold of that fear and compress it into an ingot of intentional action. Hold its reigns so tightly in your fist that it is no longer a wild stallion but a work horse with meaningful purpose. If it's too much for you to hold, remember we are not alone in this — call a friend, text a neighbor, listen to your local healthcare providers.
We all have some sense of the path through this outbreak, and we need to let that sense of direction swell to the point it outweighs our fear. But most importantly, we will do it together and refuse to be pinned in a corner by fear.
I know you can do this.