This column, “Ewing Then and Now,” most often focuses on things “then.” However, this month it is focused on the “now.”
As I write this, it is Friday March 13, and it is definitely an unnerving, weird, inauspicious time. And as you read it in early April, who knows what will be happening? I hope we are all in a better place!
What I know now though is that the world is snared in a pandemic. Abroad and here at home, national, state and local states of emergency have been declared due to the coronavirus.
In-person classes and educational gatherings in schools and universities have been stopped; sports events have been cancelled; travel has been banned or scaled way back; meetings and conferences have been halted; theatrical, musical and other performances have been darkened; and the usual pattern of life as we know it has abruptly and drastically changed.
A Facebook meme last weekend warned: “This week starts with losing an hour, features a full moon, and ends with Friday the 13th. Watch out, everyone!” How prescient.
It feels very unprecedented, and many of us are uncertain of what’s next. We’ve been warned to distance ourselves from others, which feels so contrary to our instincts of huddling together in times of uncertainty.
I wonder about any other times similar to this, and what can we learn from them. Certainly there was the 1918 flu pandemic, and I fervently hope and pray that this one is nowhere near as severe and deadly as that one was.
In part, it spread so monumentally due to a general lack of knowledge about the virus and the appropriate ways to contain it. We have come such a long way in our understanding of public health and the proper response to disease and contagion since then, and so we should all be comforted by that.
While this may be a new virus for which we do not yet have a vaccine, there are steps we can all take to help mitigate the spread, of which the current “social distancing” is one.
I think of other times of national crisis: the Civil War, the two world wars and the Depression are just a few obvious ones. Certainly some demographic populations were more severely impacted than others, but all felt some of the pain and trauma. It seems that fear and distrust served to only amplify and worsen the hardship.
Assistance and collaboration, calm and thoughtful guidance, care and concern for others, and good old determination and resilience all played critical roles in getting the American people through the hardship, and I’m sure that will be the case this time as well.
Take time to check in on others, and listen to and appreciate their concerns. Provide meals or other needs as you are able; and share rather than hoard your resources, both material and spiritual. While the situation is unfamiliar and daunting, in the midst of our “distancing” we can still be social, and care for and be considerate of others.
The community of which Ewing is a part has a long history. Gifted with the spirits of carefulness, collaboration and compassion, and a can-do attitude, we will seek to survive this as well, and continue to contribute to its history.