There are always points in history when things plummet. When we hit rock bottom and we only have one way to go: up.
In the past six months our country has lived through so much. But more than just living as we typically have, we have experienced living with time to notice.
We noticed how little time we actually have with our kids. We noticed what we really value. We noticed the simple things we took for granted. We noticed that even the smallest of choices have ripple effects for others. We noticed that friends whom we adore could be fundamentally oppositional to our own core values. We noticed that we haven’t yet achieved universal Internet access. We noticed that we don’t have feedback loops. And we unfortunately noticed that adults (as well as kids) need anti-bullying lessons.
If Covid has given us one gift, it is that of noticing.
Albeit national health risks or racial conflict, we often hear the current moment being compared to the times of the Civil War. Some authors are describing these two moments as the only in our nation’s history where we had so much uncertainty.
When I ran across this quote the other day it sparked something. Why? Because through our collective noticing we have also demonstrated a true weakness. We have forgotten we have a role to play in service.
We want to be heard and we want to be served; Individually rather than collectively. We want to get not give, have not work, push not pull. We want to have our demands met with pressure rather than productive contribution.
It’s easy to sit behind a keyboard and complain. It is easy to throw stones and make demands. It is easy to shout your wants and needs and rights. It is easy to fall prey to the needs of your moment instead of the moment of the many.
It is not easy to dig in and do the work. It is not easy to have the hard conversations with decision makers. It is not easy to step back in order to step forward stronger. It is not easy to work outside of systems to get the results we want.
When Covid first hit, myself and a group of national educational leaders discussed our shared fear that our attention and commitment to all would quickly feign. Meaning that we would take the initial Covid moments and collectively rally for positive contributions and innovative thinking but only sustain our commitment for a short time.
The fear was that we would start to feel unsettled, uncertain, and generally without control. And positive action would swap out with righteousness and privilege.
And we know that when conditions of uncertainty exist humans tend to fight to control anything and everything they can.
We were unfortunately accurate in our initial concerns. We saw a near instant national turn from helping one another to fighting with our neighbors, our friends, and even strangers among us.
Fighting for what is supposed to be ours. Fighting for what be believe is right, regardless of our expertise or real knowledge. Fighting for our families, but not our neighbors. Fighting, really, because we want what we’ve always had without presence of a pandemic.
The privilege we have observed during Covid has demonstrated a certain loss of humanity. It has demonstrated a deep frustration. It has cultivated the worst in us instead of inspiring the best in us.
We have gotten lost.
We have bought into conspiracy theories, created too many petitions to count, lost jobs, lost public servants, lost lives, and lost what binds us all together: our humanity.
We want our January 2020 world when it’s being held at bay by someone other than ourselves. We fear the unknown, we crave predictability, we fear we have built a life that cannot exist with restrictions, we want nothing more than what we’ve always had.
We have lost our habits, we have lost our routines, we have lost opportunity, and too many have lost loved ones.
Let’s remember that we are not all public health experts. Let’s remember that we don’t have all the facts, nor context. Let’s remember that calling for better communication serves all. Let’s remember that calling for collective input and feedback loops serves all.
Let us all see that this dumpster fire we are currently living through can emerge as the unicorn we all need right now.
Let us not lose our humanity because we are looking out for me instead of we.
Let us not lose our humanity because we lost our attention and commitment to all.
Let us not lose our compassion because we want what we want, now.
Let us not lose the good fight because we are focused on the current fight.
Let us not get so focused on creating false dichotomies of us and them that the we is lost.
Let’s not lose our way.
We will all leave a legacy in 2020. That legacy can be built from compassion, respect, humanity, and service. Or it can be cemented in hate, intolerance, and privilege.
Our actions will build our legacy. Our choices in understanding and owning our fears will drive how the year ends for all of us. Today you will decide. Tomorrow you will build more appreciation or more division.
This may be the year where we got lost, or it can be the year we were found. Uncertainty or not, it is all in our hands.