Occasionally, in the midst of a trying time, my sainted mother would catch me whinging and whining, and one of her stock responses was, “Well, yeah, it’s hard right now, but what do you learn on your good days?” She was making a backhanded reference to silver linings, teaching moments, or some other danged constructive perspective which I was usually incapable of appreciating at the time.
I’m looking around at this pandemic, and thinking, “This is the biggest, baddest snow day I have even seen in my life. It’s definitely new terrain for me personally and for my society. What useful insight can I take away from this?” In other words, how will this pandemic change the way I go about my life? How do I want to see it change my society for the better?
One thing I want is paid sick leave as a norm. If somebody brings enough to my organization that I’m hiring them as an employee, then they bring enough that I can cover them for a few weeks a year when they’re under the weather. People get sick, and we’re learning to our sorrow the cost of expecting that those who make the smallest wages–handling our food, looking after our old folks, staffing day care centers–should just work sick. Who ever thought that was a smart idea anyway?
Um, we did. Apparently?
For me personally, that means I should always have enough provisions on hand that I can stay home for a week or ten days if I’m sick. I wasn’t really thinking in those terms before, but I will now. It means keeping a few, “Been meaning to get around to it,” classics in my TBR pile. It means updating my will. (Still on the to-do list.)
I came across this article, which warns us that many highly motivated interests will encourage us all to forget this ever happened, and get back to “normal” as quickly as possible. But normal–full of distrust for the media, contempt for basic science, indifference to the planet’s welfare, relying on of some of the worst health care in the developed world (through no fault of our health care practitioners)–is a significant part of how we got here.
We have a chance to re-examine whether normal was working for us, and to decide what to do about the normal that wasn’t working. What lessons will you take away from our big snow day? How will this experience motivate you to build a better normal?
I’ll put three more commenters on my Advanced Reader Copy list for A Duke by Any Other Name. (Book comes out April 28, eARCs will start going out about April 17.)