Every once in a while I find myself thinking about how what is happening in the world today may actually be the unfolding of things that were emerging long before the coronavirus was recognized for the pandemic it has become.
It seems to me that we definitely had weaknesses in physical, mental, social, financial, and spiritual institutions and systems. The challenges proposed by the virus certainly expanded our view of these weaknesses and, in some areas, blew them up and out of proportion, making solutions almost impossible.
I am acutely aware of how responsible each of us is to act for the common good and to give up our “me, myself, and I” attitude during this critical time and do some hard thinking about just how that attitude will serve us in the future.
As I watch the reports about the numbers of people having the virus, not to mention our not knowing how many have it but don’t know it yet, I face a dilemma each day. I wonder whether I should go out shopping for my friend, go to the doctor with my physical problems, or stay home and be safe.
How does one make a responsible decision these days? Keeping a safe social distance from others, wearing a mask, washing my hands, and not gathering in groups larger than ten people have been the guidelines in use where I live. Rather than get too upset about how iffy all this is, I just do what I feel is right for those around me and hope and pray for the best.
I’m not surprised that so many of our weaknesses have come to light with the effect that the virus has had on our society and in our world. It is sad to think that the most vulnerable—the poor, minorities, and our elders—are the most impacted by this pandemic. Why this is so is evident because for many years, they have been the populations most underserved and ignored by us. I also remember that every once in a while there would be some exposure in the media about the horrid conditions in food production in our country. Workers in some industries have called attention to inhumane conditions in the workplace over and over again. Even some of our newer technology industries are impacted by this lack of safety, respect, and dignity in the workplace. Will this increased awareness make things different in the future? Only time will tell.
What gives me great hope these days are those many people among us who are giving their all to keep us safe, to care for the sick and the dying, and to get supplies and food to so many in need. I also find hope in the many parents who are doing the best they can to keep their families together in this challenging time.
I wonder if we ever realized just how precious parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, healthcare workers of every kind, truck drivers, PPE manufacturers, and politicians are in the grand scheme of things. We all have a job to do to continue on this journey with the coronavirus and come out of it being willing to commit to a new normal, a normal where all are treated with the respect and dignity that we have had the privilege of seeing during this most magnificent challenge. May this opportunity to see our world in new and creative ways help us to bring all this to closure with a sincere commitment to make this world a better place for ourselves and for generations to come.
Sister Mary Thill is a Sylvania Franciscan Sister. She is Patient Liaison for Mature Health Connections at Mercy Health – St. Vincent Medical Center. She can be reached at 419-251-3600.