Search This Blog

Thursday, March 26, 2020

How We Treat Each Other Matters

In times of crisis, perhaps the truest indicator of our humanity is how we treat one another. It is relatively easy to be nice to one another in the early stages of a crisis - even six feet apart - but as
the crisis deepens our true character emerges. There is nothing about capitalism that supports our efforts to be kind, and fear magnifies that trend. A small, but telling, example of this is the Wing Stop restaurant chain. They are fine with allowing third party delivery drivers to ensure they can remain open and continue making a profit, but since they have closed their restrooms to customers they won't allow delivery drivers to use them either. Not only is this sub-human treatment, it misses the point entirely on a practical level. While customers can return to their homes to use the restroom after picking up their food, it isn't practical for a delivery driver to do so. As this trend continues, there simply won't be people willing to risk their health and make less money doing it as they chase around town looking for a place to relieve themselves.

On the other end of the spectrum, I have seen children playing in their yard wearing medical
gloves and/or face masks. To what end? Given social distancing restrictions in place almost everywhere and shut down orders (under various names) in others, how is your child going to be exposed? What's more, gloves aren't going to do anything to protect anyone who isn't actively caring for sick patients, and your children using them as playthings contributes to an already critical shortage. Related to this is widespread hoarding, at first of toilet paper and sanitizers, but now of almost everything. Store shelves are often nearly empty, despite many stores adding staff and shortening hours to allow them more time to restock. I spoke with an employee at the local WalMart recently, who told me that people line up outside their doors for the seven a.m. opening time and then literally run into the store when the doors are unlocked, attempting to keep others from getting more of the things they all have already stockpiled. Our behavior has degraded significantly already, and locally we are only a few weeks into the panic.

The truth is that there is a long way to go in this pandemic. It won't be over by Easter, no matter what clueless politicians might say. Our stress levels will only be magnified by running around frantically searching for things we already have. On the other hand, people are already struggling with staying at home. Many of these people, when they go on vacation, spend hours sitting in a boat or on a beach and find doing nothing quite relaxing. At home, however, it is a struggle. It seems to me this indicates one of two problems. Either you aren't happy with the other people who live in your home or you need constant distraction to avoid looking at your own feelings. Either way, there is no better time to address these problems than right now. What else are you doing?

This crisis, like every other crisis before it, will pass in time. We can choose to learn from it and grow, or forget about it as quickly as possible and lose the opportunity. The first option will leave us better prepared for the next crisis, and we can be sure it it will come. The second option will leave us in a worse place when that next crisis comes, because we will be convinced our maladaptive behaviors are our only choice. Which will you choose?

No comments:

Post a Comment