I want to take a moment to share my thoughts about what is happening globally. The COVID-19 plague has been upon the New Yorkers for some weeks and quietly bleeding into the rest of the country. The virus has stricken the unwell, the urban and the underprivileged harder than most. But by and large it has been the great equalizer. Yes, it has been made worse by selfishness and stupidity, but at this late date, finger pointing just further separates us. We are in a difficult place, and these are odd, dark, solitary, and threatening moments.
Thomas Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and sunshine patriot, will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
It’s not 1776, and those that stand by it now; young health care workers on the front line, the police, the fire fighters, those holding society together deserve our heartfelt thanks and support. And we must each do our part, even if it’s simply social distancing, and contributing funds to help others.
Close at hand, or at a distance, we will lose friends and family, leaders and celebrities, the old and infirm, and just plain people. But for the overwhelming majority it will pass our doors and do no physical harm. Despite that bit of luck, all of us have taken something of a mental drubbing. Whether it’s fear, or loneliness, or indecision, the toll is real.
Soon the country will turn the corner, and begin the healing of the shattered economy. And as individuals we will begin doing what we usually do.
But let’s learn from this frightening time. Learn that we are all vulnerable and connected, and take stock of what really counts…and actually be better people. It’s a daunting task for the privileged, but let’s give it a shot. It would be a shame to have gone through this horror show without coming out better on the other side.
Gerald Imber, M.D.