Michael G. Mauldin: Pandemic: our shared humanity | TheUnion.com

Michael G. Mauldin: Pandemic: our shared humanity

I have lived in hurricane country, earthquake country, tornado country, and now wildfire country. I learned to “be prepared” so as not to be too scared.

They say, no matter where you live there is some natural disaster just around the corner.

Being prepared, is more than a Girl Scout/Boy Scout saying. If you follow that philosophy, it becomes a way of life. Of course, some might overdo it, and others just don’t take the idea to heart. Granted, being prepared is really its own reward for me, because I feel that I will handle what challenges nature hands me.

But then comes the pandemic.

We can get through this, we will get through this, but once we are on the other side, do we really want to get back to the way we were?

It seems counter-intuitive but being prepared for all those other catastrophes made me feel a little bit invincible, like maybe, I was not going to die. But now, something I cannot see coming can change everything.

Some of my previous ‘be prepared’ skills are helpful but this novel virus brings with it challenges I/we could not imagine. Take for example, routines. Old routines — pretty much out the window. Creating new routines has not been easy and I notice that I don’t want new routines, I want my old routines. I want the gym to be open, live music, coffee shops, restaurants, movie houses, shopping places, and farmers’ markets to be the way it was. But also, I want to be safe!

Of course, we are learning that certain protocols, rules if you will, can help our survival. So, I follow the rules, and do feel more safe. When others do not follow the rules, I feel less safe and bit angry.

Out of the COVID-19 virus came a slogan, “We are all in this together.” Well, yes and no.

Many people are suffering much worse, and many do not have the resources to make it through a prolonged struggle. So, if I am going to say, “We are all in this together,” then I am asking myself, do I fully understand the challenges others are having, and the sacrifices they are making?

I then ask myself; how can I help?

Nevada County residents have, in most cases, shown that we are up to the challenge. We want our businesses, and our nonprofit organizations to survive and when possible, to thrive. We want our neighbors to be safe, and our young people to have the resources they need to continue their path of education.

The retirees in the county are, as a group, both generous and engaged in volunteering at all levels. For these reasons I’m proud to live in the county.

There are some neighbors, a few, who have politicized the pandemic. I can’t see how that attitude is helpful for the good of the community. They have a right to their opinions, but they too have a responsibility to the community. Freedom and Responsibility are joined at the hip. You can’t have one without the other.

Also, I notice that the phrase, “we are all in this together” has taken on a deeper and richer meaning for me. Humankind the world over is dealing with this pandemic. Some places more than others for sure, but the fact that we are all dealing with the challenges makes me feel more of a kindred spirit with my human family. I like that feeling. The pandemic is an opportunity, a chance to find ways to move forward that benefit us all.

We can get through this, we will get through this, but once we are on the other side, do we really want to get back to the way we were? Pandemics will come and go, are we prepared to deal with them for the good of all?

Sure, we want to feel normal again but consider this: What new routines, new ways of living on this one beautiful planet do I want to engage in going forward? I have so much more gratitude and appreciation for all the people who make it possible for us to live and eat and play and learn and love in this community, this state, this country, and on this planet. I want to stay aware and be active in my appreciation.

I hope and pray that you find “gifts” during these challenging times and that you and yours become more aware of our humanity and your place in this new reality. Be safe and be generous with your own gifts.

Michael Mauldin lives in Grass Valley.

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