We’re living in strange times. Inside our homes, we’re sending emails in pajamas and asking ourselves if we really need to go to the store today, or can it wait. From our couch view, if we’re one of the lucky ones, we’re peering out the window, looking for visceral signs of the pandemic that might already lurk in our homes.
At home, life is boring, but turn to social media or your local grocery store and find the ways Americans are rallying together or falling woefully short. It’s in times like these that I wonder at American patriotism. These colors don’t run, but they’ll fight an elderly woman for toilet paper. Freedom isn’t free, and neither is hoarded hand sanitizer sold for a premium to a desperate population. Is patriotism just a synonym for die hard individualism? Is America the emperor wearing a new coat of red, white and blue that exists only in our minds and how does that look to other countries that watch us strutting our stuff only to realize we look worse for the wear in our invisible attire?
I don’t have an answer to these questions. Instead, I want to showcase the ways people are helping in a crisis, not just because we live on the same scrap of land we took from someone else, but because of our shared humanity and empathy.
Small businesses are getting creative, offering delivery to your door or curbside pickup. My favorite mushroom farm in Missouri is now delivering across the country. It’s the first time in years I’ve been able to get them. Check out your local Craigslist, Facebook marketplace or Nextdoor, you’ll be surprised to find local stores you didn’t know existed offering food you can’t get in the grocery store. Local distilleries and brewers are offering delivery and coffee shops have curbside pickup.
We’ve all seen the shortage of N95 masks for hospital workers, but it’s not just hospital workers that need masks. First responders, from fire fighters to 5,000 New York National Guard soldiers, need masks. So do pediatric offices, retirement homes, end-of-life care facilities, internal medicine offices, homeless shelters for veterans, food pantries, regional and rural hospitals. Just check out this site to see who needs mask in your state alone. People are rallying to help essential service employees by making masks, because something is most definitely better than nothing. So, bust out that sewing machine and join the #MillionMaskChallenge. Not a sewer? Then support a sewer by donating to a local group that needs supplies.
Let’s be better humans. Don’t be that guy that takes bottled water from a wheelchair user in the store parking lot. Don’t purposefully cough on food or lick deodorant in stores. Don’t be that guy that’s willing to kill millions of Americans because the economy is more important than human lives. Let’s not be that asshole today.