I was thinking tonight about how our country is changing before our eyes. I thought, what a crazy experience to literally watch our whole society shift noticeably and drastically right in front of us. Usually societal changes take years…decades…sometimes even longer. It’s like trying to steer a massive ship to get changes to happen on a normal day. But here we are, right in the middle of a complete redirect. I mean, it’s happened so fast, I don’t think we can even come close to grasping what all these changes will mean for our futures.
I’ve seen rights stripped away without question “for the greater good.”
I’ve seen friends and family lose their businesses.
I’ve seen unprecedented government overreach, but also unprecedented government assistance and collaboration for those who are struggling most.
I’ve seen fear grip people who I would never have thought of as fearful people.
I’ve seen people band together to meet the needs of their communities in droves.
I’ve seen innovation like never before.
I’ve seen people sacrificing the protection of their own health and safety for perfect strangers.
I miss things.
Hugging (I actually am teary-eyed right now just thinking about being able to hug someone outside my family).
Going to work.
Coffee with friends.
The freedom to go where I please whenever I want.
Yes, they are “small” sacrifices for a greater purpose. But there are many who aren’t “on vacation” right now, and my heart breaks for those who are struggling. Single parents who still have to work, but have kids at home who are now having to educate themselves. Elderly people who are wasting away in their solitude. Foster kids and kiddos in abusive homes. Wives of abusive husbands. Those who don’t know where their next paycheck is going to come from.
I believe our efforts have done (and are doing) exactly what they were meant to–I think they are making a difference. But people will only be able to seclude themselves for so long before they start to implode. We are human. And as great as Zoom calls are, there is just no substitute for in-person contact. Did you know that Indiana’s 211 hotline has gone from receiving roughly 1,000 calls a day regarding mental health — including suicidal ideation — to 25,000 calls a day? A DAY. And calls to Indiana’s addiction hotlines went from an average of 20 a week to 20 a DAY.
I believe we need to do our part. We need to maintain social distancing and probably wear masks and wash our hands all the freakin’ time. But at some point, we will break. As the Great Book says, “it is not good for man to be alone,” and there are a lot of people who are alone right now who normally wouldn’t be. It’s not good. I know it’s saving lives, but head knowledge doesn’t always equate to heart knowledge. And beyond the loneliness many are feeling, the freedoms we have given up without question…I worry that we will never get them back. Once you give power away, it’s very difficult to retrieve it.
Many good things will come out of all of this, I don’t doubt that for one second. But I can’t help but be haunted by Ben Franklin’s quote: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”