It Comes Down To Empathy

We say we are all in this together. But we are not. We cannot even say the virus attacks one and all the same. Like everything else, we find that one’s income and zip code greatly affect how the world affects the individual.

For example, the residents of the Navajo nation tribal lands are being hit harder with this virus. This is due to 40 % of the population lacking running water needed for increased hand washing as well as higher rates of health issues such as diabetes. Unique to this population is compromised immune systems from uranium mining pollution.

Individuals living in areas with higher rates of air pollution also may become sicker or have increased mortality rates due to prior damage to the lungs. Naturally then, populations living in poorer communities, who have been exposed to more pollutants, who also have less access to healthy food and affordable health care will be hit harder than the more affluent as an aggregate. We’ll hear about the celebrities taken by this virus. I too am greatly saddened by the loss of John Prine. Remember, thousands of individuals have lost their “John Prine.” Many of them grieve alone.

Of course, those that do not have the luxury of sheltering in place in the manner as me, are also at a much greater risk of contracting the virus. This burden is not just falling on the necessary work of nurses and doctors and emergency service professionals, but also all other lower-paid workers in the health care system. Much of our essential supply chain, and the workers in the service industry getting those goods into consumers hands are all kept functioning by lower-paid labor. This virus has turned those professions into high-risk professions.

The majority of Americans face choosing to work and increase the immediate impact of the virus, plus putting themselves and family at risk, or sheltering at home and potentially default on their rent/mortgage, car payments, and struggle to buy food. Both options are potentially life-threatening.

Comfortably watching TV last night, I saw numerous ads from companies, using celebrity faces stating “you are not alone.” But that is not true if you are bearing a stronger impact of the virus or the economic impact of the efforts to contain the virus. Those words mean nothing. Talk is cheap.

What it comes down to is to pause and have empathy. In what way is everyone struggling, and therefore, in what way will my actions help or endanger others in my community?

For example,when you go to the store, wear a mask. Not for you. For them. And go to the store fewer times, making more purchases so you don’t have to come back to the store after just a few days to get something you could have purchased last time. The more trips to the store, the more times the virus has an opportunity to use you as a vector to carry it to a new host.

We could be in this all together. What can you do to make this so?

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