Let’s take an inventory for a moment.
We are now eight months into the pandemic and it is weighing heavily on people. Here in the midwest it feels very different than it did in Spring. It is all around us. Most people know someone or several people that have had Covid-19. I have a lot of relatives in North Dakota and I’m hearing multiple reports of people in very small towns in rural North Dakota getting Covid-19. It is front and center in more peoples lives. It is everywhere. This is no longer something happening only in big urban locations. People are tired of it, and there is no end in sight. Looking for that light at the end of the tunnel is very difficult.
We are seeing businesses close all around us. We know people that have lost their jobs. I’m getting pleas on a daily basis from organizations that are trying to help those that are struggling. Trying to get food to families that have lost their income. A lot of people are hurting, and it is hard to know where to start.
The systemic racism that was made visible by the murder of George Floyd has focused us on improving and determining how to reduce this systemic bias. This is emotionally difficult work. It’s incredibly important work too. It requires us to dig deep and ask ourselves challenging questions. Introspecting in the face of so much uncertainty is challenging.
I’m writing this on the eve of the US Election which has been positioned in the most apocalyptic terms possible. People are anxious, worried, scared. Sadly I feel this is very engineered and intentional. Making people scared and amplifying the stakes are great ways to get people to take action, but it simultaneously is toxic to us. I suspect there are a lot of people that cannot get the election off of their mind, and it is going to impact their relationships, their work, and their emotional balance.
The first four things are all individually hard, but layering them all on top of each other is a level I personally have never even considered. While dealing with all of that, we are staring at our phones, endlessly scrolling social networks, and never disconnecting from an infinite rage cycle. Great for Facebook’s advertising revenue, corrosive and damaging to our psyche. Or we are ignoring the real world and forgetting our troubles in a saccharine stream of cat pictures. That may help for a minute, but it doesn’t make any meaningful improvement to your emotional situation.
So how are we doing? Not well. People are anxious and worried. Just last week I was in the office and came down to my car to a scene I had never experienced. In the first level of our parking ramp were two men standing by a line of cars screaming at each other. They were yelling about politics. Not a disagreement amongst coworkers, but a full on screaming match. I was worried it was going to escalate to a full on fight, but one of them yelled a final declaration and marched off before that happened. The background stress that causes people to boil over is so high.
At the same time, we also deserve to give ourselves some grace and applaud our adaptation. We are experiencing an extreme amount of change and disruption. While we may be anxious, we are successfully putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. One day at a time as they say. Those non-profits and their repeated pleas for help, are getting that help. It’s time for us to double down on civics, and minimize the politics. It’s time for us to bring the empathy to those that have lost friends and family to this pandemic. We need to focus on main street and not be placated by Wall Street. We need to continue to have difficult conversations on race and bias. And we are…
It’s a good time to take inventory. Take time to assess where we all are individually, as families, in our communities, with our coworkers and teams. It’s not weak to be honest with where you are. Find a friend and have a chat on the phone. We all need to help each other out as we work through challenges, through these tests.