Over the past couple of days I’ve stopped and erased numerous responses to posts on social media. The posts that are getting me fired up are those making fun of and/or minimizing the whole pandemic situation. I know that it’s not fun to be scared. I know that it’s not fun to have to alter our behaviors. I know that canceling spring break sucks (still deciding when and how to tell the girls that this is a very real possibility). But minds and hearts aren’t changed in comments sections, so I wrote this instead.
Most Americans never had to make a personal sacrifice on behalf of the common good. No ration books. No blackout times. Except for the few times that services were limited due to brief government budgetary shutdowns, I can’t think of many. So we aren’t used to the idea of curtailing our own freedoms and pleasures for the benefit of some shadowy, ill-defined public good.
I was hugely inspired by reports on how German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, framed the issue to her country’s people. She delivered a message of reality tempered with reassurance, caution mixed with concern for the common good. It was, I think, just right.
So, instead of being embarrassed and apologetic about social distancing measures, I suggest that we treat them as a badge of pride–something akin to the Victory Gardens of WWII. Back then, Americans were encouraged to plant these small vegetables plots both to help with food supply, but just as much to encourage morale as the country rallied to defeat a common enemy. In that case it was Hitler. In this case, it’s an exponentially dividing virus that’s, well, going viral. We need a COVID Victory Garden.
So, to that end, I give you the CO-Victory Garden. Instead of planting seeds, I will plant positive behaviors. I will wear this badge as a symbol of my willingness to do whatever it takes, as defined by reasonable sources such as the CDC, to #flattenthecurve. As of today, here’s what you have to do to plant your own CO-Victory Garden:
IN THE FACE OF A COMMON ENEMY, COVID-19, OUT OF A WHOLEHEARTED CONCERN FOR THE COMMON GOOD, I WILL:
- Obtain information from reputable sources, such as the CDC.
- Encourage best practices in my own home, including handwashing upon arriving home and daily disinfection of frequently handled items, such as doorknobs.
- Stay home when sick. I will call my doctor or public health office with questions about what to do if I am sick, rather than overburdening urgent care and emergency department waiting rooms.
- Keep a few weeks’ supply of necessary items on hand and avoid hoarding, to ensure that essential supplies are available to everyone.
- Observe travel and gathering restrictions.
- Not whine if my personal or social life has been negatively affected by the cancellation of an entertainment event that I was looking forward to. I’ll be sad quietly and try my hardest not to blame others for something out of their control.
- Support businesses that employ best practices. If I am able, I will not pressure small business owners for refunds for COVID-19 related cancellations, as they are likely struggling financially. Many of their hourly workers are struggling as well, so I will try to be empathetic as I make decisions.
- Check in on already socially isolated people in my community.
If I can figure out how to, I’m going to change my profile pics to that cute badge that my brother, Patrick Bier, whipped up for me over lunch. It will serve as a sign that I’m quietly doing my part. I’m neither overreacting nor burying my head in the sand. Who’s in?