March 25, 2020
I hope you are well. I hope all who share your spaces are well.
In 1995 the then First Lady, Hilary Rodham Clinton, wrote a book entitled “It Takes a Village”. Aside from the advances her political career achieved for women (or failed to achieve – both were needed to be trail blazed), Clinton’s legal career focused upon children’s and women’s rights, especially focusing upon the societal and governmental duties of health care reform.
I had been raised in a 1970’s traditional household in which my father was a teacher / principal. No matter where my own career landed, I found myself in similar realms such as corporate training and later on, a ten year tenure as a teacher in a parochial school. But at the time of Hilary Clinton’s book, I was newly married with an ongoing, bright career at a specialty insurance company.
The book’s title brought to light an African proverb of the shared responsibilities in child raising and, as I adopted it, with society. We, as defined as “village,” should all feel the tug of social responsibility for children, our elderly, and other beloved village members who could be either permanently or temporarily “challenged.” (Tenderly think of the challenges of life stages from childhood to growing older to life events. Ask yourself this question – “If I was alone and in a terrible automobile accident, what would I do? What resources does my ‘village’ have?”)
Some philosophies come and go. The profound message in Clinton’s book became mockingly overshadowed by White House events. I too put that philosophy on the shelf.
Until I was pregnant with my first and only child. Until my father suffered a massive stroke. Until I began teaching.
Years pass. Life happens. Some of it not so good. And my concept of village perhaps needed redefining. Divorce. Losing a job.
The Village 2020.
Each time I end my writing by wishing you love, blessings and a kiss, of course. The events of the world in the past month cause me to add the wish for your good health. Your health, now more than ever, is my family’s health, my health is my neighbor’s. We are global.
I should at least specifically mention the virus, the stock market and the extraordinary examples of human behavior on both end of the spectrum. There is a case to be had for social relevancy or just relevancy, period.
But what would I write that has not already been written or what has not been experienced?
Chances might be that I will not contract SARS-CoV-2. Statistically I could make an even stronger statement and still be correct. I live in north central Wisconsin. I tend toward social distancing on a normal day. True, my daily career involves a high degree of people contact, but chances are that I will not contract the virus.
My worries center upon my son and my mother. My son, too, is at a low degree of risk in contracting the virus. As a healthy, young male in north central Wisconsin statistically he would recover. (At least based upon current knowledge). But I am a mother. I have claimed my right to worry despite the statistics.
But my mother is eighty-five. With a feisty mind and an equally abundant soul of energy, she is delicate. (I will not ever admit that description to her). From her I inherited my tendency toward social distancing. Of all the heartwarming stories during this time, I find myself grateful for businesses and neighbors who, with respectful, thoughtfulness, care for the most mature members of our society.
I have also had the moments of shock as I witness the stockpiling behaviors of shoppers and the resultant barren shelves; the lonesome freezers designed for quantities of hundreds of pizzas in as many varieties to quell the hungry diversity of palates; the hollow echo of dairy and egg coolers; and, the empty stare of water pallets.
Yet, we survive. We go on.
Human behavior is always logically illogical. If I found social behavior confusing before the virus panic, I certainly have no better clue now. Isolation? No, I do not feel isolated. Alone? No, I do not feel alone. Even back in the woods where I live, the world seems quieter. Televised sports are gone. Event coverage disappears as the events themselves disappear.
(Sidebar: My big plans to attend the Milwaukee Bucks game were foiled. Their incredible team play and successful season had guaranteed them a playoff spot. Gone. No game.) Since I began writing this article a week ago, my son’s sophomore year at the university has transitioned to online lectures and coursework. His dormitory closed.
We are in the midst of social distancing as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. We are in the midst of a pandemic.
And as some shoppers stockpile, some do not. While I am surprised at the behaviors, I have no right to judge. What if I were to be judged? How would I judge me? How many times have I been silent or refused to participate or neglected to advise or opine? How many times did I go along, quietly, without taking a stand? Even against my better judgement so as not to cause a wave much less a riff, how many times did I not share my thoughts?
“Steph?” I ask myself. “How could you?”
The worst part is that I refused to think. I had a responsibility to think and I did not. That is my awful truth. I have the capacity of feelings enough for a village, but I would not dare to think. Dare to think?
It took a virus. It took a virus for me to wake up to the responsibility I have as a global citizen. And nothing I feel so strongly as the belief that my health is your health. Your family’s health is my family’s health.
My village is your village. China, Italy, Spain and Iran are not so far away. Our villages. Our globe.
Did it really take a virus? Did it really take a virus to act with global responsibility? Should we not have already been practicing wisdom when looking to our health as a population? Shouldn’t we already be diligently washing our hands?
Commutes and social distancing are perfect opportunities for analyses and solutions on all levels, personal and global. For what good is it, to be either one without the other?
So, what do we do now? We study. We listen. We question. I am no doctor, but there are facts about the coronavirus. The global knowledge is advancing. Do not be afraid to be informed. Look to the CDC, the World Health Organization, and local health officials.
Be a village.
I only wish global transformation was as instantaneous as ones haircolor endeavors.
For the coming week, I need to repeat to myself my own words from February. (Isn’t there a farmer’s saying about chewing the cud twice?)
“Well, Steph, why don’t you find out?”
May you know the awkwardness of pure faith. It is yours and is meant to “take you away” a bit from the world. Smile. Have fun. Love. Love a lot. (It’s not pie, remember?)
Love, Blessings and – ok, I will always giggle, and I will always be a bit disgusted that I giggle because, well, really….giggle? –
And, a kiss…
*Please join me next time for: “Avenged.”