We are in the throes of a global pandemic and we are existing without reliable federal leadership. Each and every one of us is at the mercy of decisions other people are making, be it our bosses, school superintendents, the person next to us on public transit who may or may not have just sneezed into the air.
Everyone is in a mild state of panic. Even the people who are gamely going along with the line about this being some kind of hoax are panicking underneath it all. We, Americans, are not ok.
If you studied psychology at any time in the past, you probably learned about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I included a graphic of it if you feel like scrolling up. We are all supposed to be on a journey to self-actualization but this week? Every human in a COVID-19 effected region has been pushed down to the bottom level of the pyramid. Safety and health are the only concerns.
I’m only kind of exaggerating.
Take for example schools where I live. The district keeps telling us about the contingencies they are putting in place to ensure kids will still learn even if we are in a restricted social contact situation with schools closed. I am a person who works from home and won’t see any interruption in my livelihood and even I am saying “Check yourself, MCPS. You cannot expect families to manage to stay financially afloat, monitor themselves for health issues, AND step in to supervise learning for their kids. We can stay alive and maybe not go broke. We cannnot also educate anyone.”
We all need to forgive ourselves for abandoning the higher order needs we are used to trying to fulfill. There will be no live entertainment events for a while. We can’t go to large houses of worship and hold hands. Clubs and societies and private gatherings will have to cease. All any of us can focus on right now is staying alive.
And this is ok. Stay alive. Keep your family as safe as you can. You are not failing if you do that. You are taking care of the needs you have right now, which are different than the needs we all had a week ago.
The one thing I would urge, however, for those with financial means, is to find whatever charitable organizations will be doing relief work in your region and donate to them. Food banks, in particular. Home heating assistance in northern regions. Non-profit healthcare facilities. They need cash, not stuff right now. They know what they need to distribute and monetary donations let them exercise their expertise.
Things are about to get very weird and very scary for a while. Do what you need to do to survive this. If you can also help someone else along the way, please do so. But reject guilt and shame for anything you can’t do. These are not normal times and we need to readjust our expectations.