Who would have thought the whole world could turn upside down in just a few weeks?
The rate of change has been staggering, leaving people on the East End, on Long Island, across the country and around the world staggering to keep up with a relentless stream of steady blows disrupting every aspect of life. “Normal” seems no longer applicable to everyday life.
It’s tempting to feel overwhelmed, depressed, even hopeless at times. For many, the challenges are all too real. It’s about businesses surviving, and people hoping they have enough money to buy food, wondering where the next mortgage payment will come from. It’s staying away from people we love for their own good, and ours.
But how society responds to the current crisis will define us for generations to come, in historical accounts that will mark the dark days currently unfolding.
How, then, will society be remembered? Will it be celebrated — as the generations who endured wars and famines and cataclysmic tragedies have been — for enduring the present and coming hardships and triumphing over adversity, showing courage and strength at a time of adversity?
It will. Because that’s the fabric that makes up our society. We are a nation borne of hearty stock that grew stronger and stronger by defeating every challenge. That’s even more true of East End residents.
It’s not going to be easy. Days may seem dark right now, and they promise to get even darker over the next weeks, maybe months. The “curve” of COVID-19 cases that everyone is bracing for will be steep. But, eventually, we will pass the peak and begin heading back down to sanity. Dawn will come.
So what do we do in the meantime? How do we face the challenges ahead, especially when everyone is isolated, stuck in their homes, unable to feel the warmth of human interaction?
That answer is simple: We stand up and face the challenges together — as a society. As our parents and their parents and their parents before them did, we band together. We support one another. We hold up each other, albeit from a safe distance right now, when we need to.
There are many ways to do that. Pick up and deliver groceries or other supplies to a neighbor who shouldn’t be going out. Nonprofits are struggling during the outbreak to stay solvent while meeting an ever-increasing demand. Consider a donation.
Food pantries are also working hard to meet increasing demands. Instead of hoarding food, give some away. Donations of excess medical supplies would be greatly appreciated by those who provide care. Donate blood, help the homeless, deliver meals to those who need them. Do something nice for the healthcare workers, firefighters, EMTs who are on the front lines every day.
Americans in general, and this region in particular, have a history of going above and beyond in a crisis to help one another. It’s a tradition that must be repeated now. All that’s different is a matter of degree. It’s never been more necessary.
And that includes helping local businesses and restaurants, many of which have been forced to alter how they do business and face an uncertain future. Every dollar spent should be spent locally whenever possible.
There is no silver lining to a virus outbreak. But a country so divided by politics is showing signs of coming together, united by so many things: fear, generosity, compassion. Those are the things that define a community, big or small — the interconnectedness. This community will survive this crisis together or not at all.
A crisis brings out character and defines it — individually, and as a community.
Together, we will persevere. Together, we will survive. Together, eventually, we will overcome the crisis and get back to our lives — stronger, better and perhaps a little more grateful.
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One fine body…