I am wondering just how long folks can handle our current isolation with trying new recipes, searching online for long-lost friends, trying to find unique ways of occupying the kids or the dog or cat or the spouse. We are not geared to entertaining ourselves too well. In the days gone by, isolation was the way life was. You worked all week and then if you were like my grandparents on Sunday, grandpa would put on a clean shirt and shine his shoes and he and grandma would go visiting. And then you came home to a week of routine chores -- baking bread, washing clothes, plowing fields, tending cattle and so it went. That sense of community that was a part of their lives was supplemented by an occasional church service and programs at the school in their township. In these days people are working from home, finding their entertainment on the internet and contacts are via various internet sites.
I was reading some articles from the NYT this morning and their prognostications of the coming days are grim. No one knows what is ahead, but the emotional stress on people in the midst of crowded hospitals and moral and ethical choices no one should have to make raise stress levels to the max. Economists say the economic fall-out world wide is going to be far-reaching and long lasting. As Bette Davis said in one of her classic lines, "Hang on, everybody! It's going to be a bumpy ride!" There are many with inner courage who pronounce, "We will get through this." And I am a believer, but not before we are going to have to make some sacrifices and adjust to a new "normal".
I am especially concerned about the Third World Countries where poverty has already caused huge problems of disease and death and many of the poor suffer from underlying health issues already that make them fair game for any disease that comes along. The World Health Organization has said we are fighting a world war. Survival is what we are dealing with right now, until the scientific community can get a handle on the virus and how to deal with it. We need science more than ever and we need the wise men and women who work with the newest tools and discoveries. One researcher said it was so great the way scientists were trading discoveries and theories and working together to help the world.
Probably we need to start wearing masks in this country as the virus continues to spread. More than ever we need to be sensitive to the needs of the people around us. As do most folks I fear for those I love rather than worrying about myself. My family all lives in larger cities while out here in Eastern Montana we have practiced social isolation for a long time. I noticed I was looking at license plates the other day and wondering about some I saw from Washington. A clerk in a gas station convenience store was more adamant that travelers should keep moving. Now Governor Bullock has put a travel ban on people crossing our borders. The spread of the disease is insidious, you can't see it, you don't even know if you have it yourself. You can be a carrier and that is frightful in its own way.
As a species we have always had to deal with epidemics of various kinds. Now we are going to have to live with epidemics like this for a long time to come. One vaccine is not going to wipe out the disease world wide as long as we have people traveling to all points of the globe. It will be a reality in the lives especially of generations to come. Being alert to the maintenance of our basic freedoms; upholding the rights of all human beings; maintaining a sense of justice and compassion are the real new "normal". President Franklin Roosevelt at another time of great panic in the world said, "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself." The inhumanity we humans practice comes most often from fear. Caution is very important, but it must be part of a larger picture. This is not about the color of a person's skin, their gender, their age, or if they are rich or poor. It is about preservation of the species and some sense of compassionate relationships in the new world in which we daily find ourselves.