TIME TO STEP UP AND BE GREAT CITIZENS

*This is a NON-PARTISAN but slightly political post*

For the first time since World War II, it’s time to step up and be great citizens of this country. Covid-19 is here to stay. It will affect every single one of us sooner or later. This will be a struggle we all have to participate in. Not only to protect ourselves, but to protect our friends, families, jobs, the economy, and our mental well being. The world is still in the early stages of a major disruption and upheaval. Many people are calling social distancing, self-quarantining, no public gatherings of any size, canceled sports and entertainment events and even seasons the “NEW NORMAL.” To me, this will never be normal. Just like we adjusted to life after September 11, 2001, we’ll adjust to Covid-19. But for me, life was “normal” before 9/11, and after that, it wasn’t.

I was inspired to write this after hearing a broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio. The topic was the things individuals are doing to help those worse off or most affected by the sudden cessation of normal daily activities, jobs, school, and such. The guests and callers were mentioning the little ways we could make the best of it going forward by putting the needs of others ahead of our selfish fears or inertia.

It was small things like:

  • Buying groceries or supplies for another person or family when you go to the store. This will help reduce exposure for those who are more susceptible to the disease.
  • Singing or playing an instrument outside a patient’s window.
  • NOT hoarding, but rather sharing your extra with someone who needs what you have a surplus of–like toilet paper(??) I still don’t understand why people are hoarding toilet paper.
  • Volunteering to help friends and neighbors who can’t risk going out with chores, maintenance, or errands.
  • Volunteering to fill in for other volunteers who can’t help their favorite charity because they or a family member are sick or got laid off and are unable to volunteer their time.
  • Calling friends and family often and perhaps using Facetime or video conferencing to make the conversation more “live and in person.”
  • Contacting your neighbors and arranging a daily set meeting time for everyone to go out on their front steps, or in their apartment doorways, and say hi to each other from a safe distance.
  • Focus on spending quality time with family (board games, reading, listening to music together, working on family projects or arts and crafts)  instead of simply falling back on video games, Facebook, or staring at the television all day. Take time to have heart-to-heart discussions, especially with your children, about how to cope with this crisis and how to be a stronger person overall.
  • DONATE BLOOD IF YOU ARE HEALTHY!
  • Support your local small businesses, like RESTAURANTS and COFFEE SHOPS by ordering take out or to go, especially if you are a regular patron. BOOKSTORES (Hint, hint) by purchasing online or by mail order or arranging for curbside pickup of merchandise. So many Minnesota bookstores are already offering those services! Think of what life might be like if all the local businesses you take for granted now end up closing because they couldn’t generate enough business to pay their bills.
  • MOST IMPORTANT, we all need to think outside the box and come up with 330 million small, creative ways to overcome whatever obstacles Covid-19 throws in our way.

I understand that many of you may be unable to do much because you are handling a job loss, kids at home, shortness of funds for daycare, and such. But we can all do at least one thing that doesn’t cost money or take much time. Those with the extra time and/or money can certainly do more.

The last worldwide pandemic the world went through was the influenza pandemic about 100 years ago.

Hundreds of millions got sick. Millions died. But the survivors muddled through. It’s different this time because the virus is spreading faster thanks to our global interconnectedness. But we also have a huge advantage that our grandparents and great-grandparents didn’t have: high-speed communication, travel, logistics, and dissemination of information. So PLEASE LISTEN TO THE MEDICAL EXPERTS, not the politicians. Anyone of us can get the disease. Anyone of us could die from it. Right now, chances seem high that most of us will either get sick or know someone who will get sick. We may all eventually know someone who dies from Covid-19. I hope we as a world find a way to stop this pandemic quickly. But . . .

WE CANNOT SIT BY AND WAIT FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO DEAL WITH THIS CRISIS, ESPECIALLY OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT!

LOCAL AND STATE GOVERNMENTS AND PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCIES, YES. They’ll have a better handle on what needs to be done in each community and neighborhood and will be able to respond faster than our bloated federal bureaucracy.

That said, this will end only when each and every person who is able to do so steps up and makes a sacrifice of some sort. Extend a helping hand to those who need it. Fight this like all America pitched in to fight World War II. People did without food, clothing, basic necessities in order to help finance the war effort. They bought war bonds, recycled commodities that were needed for the war, endured long work hours filling in for those who were in the military, and paid higher taxes after the war was over to erase the wartime debt.

What the Greatest Generation DIDN”T DO was to take the cues our Federal leaders gave us after 9/11. After the planes hit the Twin Towers and Pentagon, POTUS and Congress basically said, “Don’t worry about a thing. Just go about life as usual. Go to the mall, go to dinner, the movies, etc. We’ll handle it.” After that, they used America’s credit card to pay for the war. Congress didn’t ask a single American to pay more in taxes! The only people who made any sort of sacrifice were the men and women in the military. All were prepared to, and many did make the ultimate sacrifice.

What Has Made this Country Great? INDIVIDUAL AMERICANS, NOT our Government. It was our individualism, our self-reliance, our strength of will, our indomitable spirit, that made the country great. We seem to have lost those traits, which is what I think the current POTUS should have emphasized when he said, “Make America Great Again.” Great isn’t about how big and powerful the government is. It’s not about having the biggest military. It’s not about being the richest country. It’s not about rigid conformity to one set of rules and standards. It’s not about returning to a simpler but flawed bygone lifestyle and society that can’t be recreated.

Greatness lies in the character, compassion, generosity, independence, and strong character of each one of us–WE THE PEOPLE.

This is a historical moment in the world. How we respond will be remembered forever. Each of us has a choice as to our response. Do I sit back and let someone else fix this? Or do I take action for the good of my family, friends, and neighbors? Now more than ever, ITS TIME TO STEP UP AND BE GREAT CITIZENS.

If you think others need to read or hear this message, feel free to share it any way you choose.

(If you’d like to do one small thing to help this small business, feel free to purchase one of my books. Check out Straight River or Castle Danger here.)

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