“In this together”. That was all that was on the billboard. I am assuming it was referring to our all being affected or connected by the coronavirus. Well, I suppose that’s true. Yes, the coronavirus is a ‘great’ equalizer, like the weather.

If this pandemic has done a few ‘good’ things, one is that it has brought all sorts of people together. Strange, isn’t it, that with our 6-ft rules, our quarantines, our lack of public outings and events, our social distancing —it seems to have, in many ways, connected us much more than ever, but in different, maybe even more meaningful ways. I suppose because we have a
‘common enemy’ that transcends color, creed, economic status, political persuasion, nationality. We are all united against the devastation brought forth by the virus. How moving to see a factory worker who used to assemble trucks postpone his retirement to now help make life-saving ventilators. Or to see scientists working frantically to find a vaccine.
Or trash collectors, or doctors and nurses, or delivery people with food or medication, or transit workers, or restaurant workers…all risking their own health for the benefit of others. The stories of service seem endless.

Looking ahead, much is being discussed regarding the ‘new normal’. More ‘virtual’ activities, more distancing, more sanitizer, more space. Less travel, less profit, less large gatherings, if any. At least for some time, some things may change. And yet, I wonder: When the pandemic is over, and the enemy has been defeated, what will have really changed? I wonder if all the good that happened during the crisis will stop. When we will stop being ‘in this together”? Will we forget the heroics, the sacrifice, the kind words, the small gestures, or the life-saving steps taken during the pandemic? Or will we all just go back to our old lives, old old routines, and our old ways of a different kind of isolation from others?

That would be the real tragedy in this story —- if we don’t learn from this pandemic. If we act as if it didn’t happen, and we only hope it never happens again. If we don’t learn and grow and change from all of this. If we don’t re-evaluate, re-examine and re-direct. Will I be a ‘first responder’ to someone in need? Or better yet, a first initiator? After all, there is always someone in a personal time of crisis who needs help. We all have times of crisis, often unspoken, more often unaware to others, but very real. Will I be there to help, or will I look away?

This pandemic will pass, but it will leave in its wake a society shaken to its core physically, emotionally, economically. It will be then, more than ever, that we must heed the billboard’s message, but with one small addition:
“In this together…always”. – Peter

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