“We are all in this together…” a phrase that accompanies most communication or narrative addressing the global pandemic COVID-19. It is a phrase that is meant to encourage, bolster and promote solidarity. It is meant to soothe the anxieties isolation breeds by reminding us there is connectivity in separateness. ”We are all in this together…” but, are we? Or is this phrase as tongue-in-cheek as that one that makes me chuckle each time I hear it, “Always remember you are unique. Just like everyone else…” 😊
Mirth aside, there is no argument this pandemic has united the world in a way that not even FB could have done. It has shed light on the depth of our interconnectivity in a way that we could not have imagined. It has forced us to learn about fellow inhabitants on the other side of the world and acknowledge their presence and rights perhaps in the way beings on other planets are snickering and calling our karma. This pandemic, while necessitating we employ even more heightened focus on ourselves, also insists we focus as intently on others (albeit, from six feet away). It has removed our ability to continue to ignore or disregard those among us who do the work and provide the services we have always depended on but devalued and scorned. It has toppled many of us off the pedestals we have placed underneath ourselves and relegated us way to the back of the line of what is considered essential. Sadly it has taken a pandemic to remove so-called celebrities’ and athletes’ names from the headlines and our mouths by tragically replacing it with the names of those we should have always idolized. Those in our own homes and communities. So yes, in that regard, “we are all in this together…”
But, that may be where it ends. Unquestionably, there are many aspects of the state of our world that are universal and thus check-ins between friends, family and partners may carry similar expressions. Undoubtedly. But what about when you hang up? When you remove yourself from any public scrutiny and sit with yourself? What do you find? What do you two talk about? Do you continue the narrative that everyone is expecting – optimism, proof of faith, strength, positivity – or do you allow yourself the truth? Are you able to admit to yourself your fear, anger, moments of hopelessness and pessimism? No? Well, this is my point. “We are all in this together…” may encourage some of us to emulate what the masses do. It may shame us into showing up and behaving in ways that our souls do not feel. It may do to us what is done to the new mother who is bombarded with an insistence to breastfeed and is unable to. It may “postpartum” us.
“We are all in this together…” simply because we are all inhabitants of this beautiful earth. Yes. We are all susceptible to this deadly virus and need each other to act responsibly in order to contain spread. So yes, my physical well-being can depend on you if I allow interaction with you. And that is my point as it relates to my emotional and mental well-being. We must all be resolute in safe-guarding our emotional exposure. Social media, for all its amazing benefits, has always been a platform where some have insisted on a persona that is inauthentic. It has notoriously been a space where we have insisted on the declaration of the prettiest of our lives and ourselves – our accomplishments, successes, travels, narratives, social circles and images (evidenced by the dramatic drop in selfies during this time), while conversely being free with the downfall and tragedy of others.
Yes, we are all sharing a susceptibility to this deadly and devastating disease. But, we are not all sharing the same experience. Let’s be careful with asking or demanding of each other to share the same reactions or expressions. Let’s create or utilize spaces that allow for my not-doing-so-good self to be just that. Must that space be public? No. But any (seeming) inference that if I am weak means I am not making the best use of this time to create, reinvent, dream, plan, hustle or pivot may even privately deny me the right to my feelings. Listen. This post may not be for you. But it absolutely is for me. Because some days, some succession of days, all I have is the strength and desire to live. Nothing else. And that’s all I ask from you. And if you can’t manage that, I’ll lend you some of mine.
These times are unprecedented. They are traumatic. I am afraid of the virus and what it is doing, but I am not afraid to say so. Neither should you be. How about we tweak that phrase a bit so it is not universal, while at the same time, exclusionary? How about, “we’re all in this to get her…” We are forced to await a vaccine to ward off this virus, but we are not forced to wait on doing what we can for ourselves and each other mentally and emotionally. I got you…