Some people are still going to work each day as their jobs have been classified as "essential" while the rest of us are at home every day. Some of us can work from home but many of have jobs that don't really allow for working from home. Regardless, we all still have to parent and homeschool our children, cook, clean and run our households.
It can be hard to find and pay for childcare when you are still working but school classes are cancelled. And it can be hard to be at home self isolating and feeling like you aren't contributing to your community. There's no winner in this game.
Here are some thoughts about what happens to our community during this pandemic (https://bit.ly/2YoOML8) :
What happens when community is declared unessential? Most of us comply. The extreme introverts celebrate. As COVID-19 spreads we know the physical act of community is not good for us, and so for those most vulnerable in society, we give up physical community to overcome a threat to all of us.
And then… we just cannot do it anymore. Some broke down after just one week. We are hardwired to connect. But we want to stay safe. So, we start to get creative. Individual acts of caring emerge as we buy groceries for our neighbours and call those shut in. But our children are going stir crazy and so we make up games by posting pictures in our windows and then encourage others to do the same leading us to walk with our children to find them. We are delighted by the neighbours that join us.
Some people sing to their neighbours and then post this on social media where we listen and imagine that we were there on the balcony beside them and clap with those neighbours to congratulate this act of community building.
How long can we postpone the physical act of community? I know the simple answer is, “as long as it takes.” But that is just a few more weeks, right? Some say the first step out of physical distancing is that we will be allowed to select 2-3 households to interact with for awhile – as long as each one of those households commits to physical distancing from everyone else. Others say we will be tested daily before we enter a workplace getting an instant response (assuming such a test will exist) and should we pass we can work together. The economy desperately requires us to open stores and restaurants. Will that be next as we learn to eat our veggie burger with a mask?
I am an eternal optimist. I desperately want to believe that the online communities we have formed and the virtual dinners we hold are enough. I want to believe we can do this physical distancing thing as long as it will take. I want to believe that our emotional and social well-being will be okay – we can heal. But I am not so sure. I really want us to declare community essential. I want us to invest in community and find new ways of engaging together. Could we spend a little less on saving the economy and a little more on saving ourselves?
If we were to declare community essential, we would find ways to connect safely. We would learn to do so. We would have the emails of all our neighbours. There would be a block captain. We would all be trained on how to engage safely. We would have access to a database of “assets” neighbours have and the gifts they are willing to share. One neighbour would swing by your porch with a guitar and sing you a song from 20 feet away, another would come to mow your lawn because you are too elderly to do it yourself. We would learn to barter freshly baked bread for a favourite bean casserole. We would learn to drop off produce from our garden safely.
Let's start finding more ways to declare our Communities essential!