Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Hard times bring out the best in us: Let us learn from that!

This epidemic, or pandemic, is new to most of us in the western world.  We had to answer exam questions about such things, perhaps, in history class.  But it was abstract.  It happened then, to other people, less advanced than we perhaps, elsewhere, of some other language, way back when.  Well, now we are they!

Can we manage through this with minimal damage, but then remember--remember the good that such trials achieve, and keep them as part of the COVID legacy?  Of mutual care and concern. That would, in some tragic sense, be a good, maybe the only good, that can come from it.

Our daughter and her husband and their infant daughter live in a Ground Zero of the epidemic, in  northern Italy.  They are in a small town, but the number of deaths even in their town has mounted. A neighbor has died of it.  At the same time, many there have rallied to help each other through this, including a local doctor, a friend of theirs, who is running herself ragged, in a burdensome protective space-like suit, caring for the many stricken.

A scientist colleague, someone I've never actually met in person (only in an online science discussion site) offered to send financial help to our daughter and her family.  People are writing to check on each other's well-being.  Very nice!

The toll will be substantial. Jobs will lost (our daughter and her husband are musicians who live in part on the classical music gig economy), but economic loss won't be all.  There will be a psychological toll as well.  How long will it take to recover that?

Even so, the local mutual aid, and the strength of extended families and neighbors, will be gains, if the lessons are remembered when the dust has settled and the dead are underground, no longer visible reminding the survivors of what happened.  Maybe wars have had similar effects on survivors in the ravaged areas?  After the fact, unfortunately, but at least getting something good out of something awful.

Can those of us for whom this is just a minor annoyance (where will we get some toilet paper or do we have to use newspaper?) remember it, too?  If not, what will be the cost of our neglect next time something like this comes around?

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