During week three of the need to Shelter-in-Place due-to-Covid-19 crisis, people are starting to feel antsy, tired, anxious, and, yes, even defeated. Quite a succinct word, defeated—demoralized and overcome by adversity. That seems to be the norm for many people right now.
Despite the cheerleader-type videos and messages from celebrities, the reality of social isolation is taking its toll. The dire warnings of weeks of this to come, the harsh reality that this virus excludes no one, and the stark possibility that this may become as yearly a problem as the flu, only much worse, can make even the most optimistic person feel that we have been defeated and that nothing will ever return us to our normal lives. How we are living now is the ‘new normal’ and it is terrifying on so many levels. I know I am feeling defeated and very anxious about my mortality. Ending my years on earth this way never, ever crossed my mind.
Adding to these already frightening realities are our fellow humans. The Draconian statement from the lieutenant governor of Texas that anyone over 70 years of age should be willing to sacrifice themselves, “willing to risk their health and even lives in order for the United States to get back to work amid the coronavirus pandemic” is as outrageous as it is horrifying. It is a Hitleresque idea, employed viciously in Germany, where Hitler sought to rid the country of anyone he deemed “problematic or undesirable” in his superior Aryan race. Shame on Dan Patrick for even voicing this idea! As writer Jim Fusilli said, “You go first, Dan. I’ll watch and see how you like being eliminated. I’m not willing to sacrifice myself.”
Then there are the doomsayers—you know, those people who love nothing more than to tell you how bad it is and how much worse it will get. I’m not talking about the doctors and governors who are telling the truth to inform us, I’m talking about those who delight in creating end-of-the-world scenarios “just for fun” and to terrorize others.
This is supposed to be a time when we are told to be kind to each other, but truthfully—in spite of those feel-good videos put up by the network news where someone does a kind and charitable act toward their neighbors or even strangers—I have seen little kindness being extended. Price-gougers, people selling phony cures, those people on the fringes of society hoping to make a buck off of the fears and panic of others, as well as those who think only of their own selves and everyone else be damned. A lack of kindness is to be expected when people are scared and worried about survival. For some it’s survival for “me and mine” and no time or effort for “you and yours”. It’s upsetting and disheartening.
We are in a two-fold crisis, make no mistake about that. Health and financial crises go hand-in-hand and we’re looking for an escape out of this double mess. It seems as if we’re in a maze with false turns and no clear way out—we’re as stuck as Jack Nicholson’s character was in that frozen maze in the movie The Shining.
We know that didn’t end well.
But there is a sort of light at the end of this seemingly endless tunnel. I think about a much-decorated WWII vet I had the pleasure to meet and interview a few years ago. He was 94 at the time, a charming man with a great sense of humor even as he told me some frightening war stories.
I asked him if he had ever felt defeated by what was happening around him—the war, the casualties, the never-ending fear. His answer is one of hope and the amazing resiliency of the human spirit.
“Defeated? Sure. I did. There were many times when I felt defeated. You get discouraged and you definitely get scared. Feeling defeated is okay. But you know? The human spirit is strong and that feeling of being defeated was soon replaced by a feeling that I was going to not only survive the war but that I would make it my business to live a full and happy life. I would become a better person for having lived through that war. Feeling defeated at times of crisis is normal but it passes. I know that for a fact. I’m living proof.”
So we’ll survive this isolation. We’ll survive the doomsayers, the fears, the isolation, the feeling of being defeated. We’ll find that human spirit, that resiliency to rise above this. Just remember, it’s okay to feel defeated. It will pass.
And maybe, just like that wonderful WWII veteran, we’ll make it our business to live fuller, happier lives—and become better people.