I think we all are alarmed at the extensive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is little in our society and in our world that has remained the same due to this virus. It is frightening to think of what one virus can do when it is as contagious and pervasive as this one.
For those of us in the people-helping services we are experiencing what happens when we are confined and unable to provide the usual care that our clients are needing. Whether we are talking about substance abuse, mental health concerns, domestic violence, child abuse, marital and family discord or other related behaviors it has all gotten much more intense. In whatever ways these issues are present they are now heightened because of the isolation, stresses of finances and constancy of relationship in a current environment of confinement.
Other pragmatic issues are also having effect on us all. We are not able to get the same level of medical care because of the stressors on our entire medical system. Our unemployment rate is high as some businesses have been forced to close, leaving people without jobs. Our economy in general has come to a screeching halt in ways that have far-reaching impact to us all. There are so may insidious consequences resulting from COVID-19 that have affected each of us emotionally, relationally, physical and economically.
What is glaringly apparent is that this virus has exposed so much about our individual lives, our systems, our country and our world. None of us could have ever predicted such a prevalent pandemic. Yet now that we are in the middle of such a global crisis, we have a unique chance to view our world through a completely different lens. This is truly a pressure test of almost every aspect of our society as we know it.
One of the harsh realities is that many of our deficits have appeared front and center. There have been so many systems of care that are ill-prepared for such a devastating impact. Whether we acknowledge the increased need for PPE, ventilators, medical staff, deployment of help, social services, economic protections, trade, unemployment or any of the social ills that are now growing exponentially there is so much to learn about how we can be better prepared and capable of working through challenging issues. We now have a stark realization of how many gaps there are throughout our society.
However, we also see other positive aspects of this pressure test of COVID-19. People are coming together in incredible ways. We have seen many businesses stop their normal production in order to make masks, ventilators and other necessary equipment. Food is being distributed throughout our communities from food pantries as a result of generous donations. Our government has rallied to help our hospitals and small businesses. Unemployment funds are being made available for workers who have been furloughed. Neighbors are helping neighbors and the spirit of giving selflessly has come alive in America. I am filled with pride as I witness all of the outpouring of help and hope to those in great need.
In it all new and emerging ideas are coming forth. We are using online technologies in very creative ways. We are connecting in spite of our stay-at-home mandates. We have developed some sophistication in social distancing and protection which could help in future flu seasons. We are doing more research and development work on mitigating this virus which will probably lead to a new template for helping to study other diseases. We have seen manufacturing rise to meet challenging needs in record speed. We have established new online education forums from our schools and universities with new innovation and creativity. We have found ways to function so that we do not have to travel as much to buy cars, groceries and other commodities. The list of innovations go on and on.
Yes, we are being pressure-tested. We clearly see the problems that we need to deal with personally and in our systems of care. The stressors have exposed some issues that we really need to work on together. We are on a learning curve that will better prepare us for anything like this in the future and getting more clear about our gaps. Perhaps this will be a catalyst for so many issues to finally be either rectified or improved.
We have the capacity to rise from this crisis with new purpose and potential to be very intentional about what we can do to mitigate some of the issues that have frustrated us for years. If we are careful not to emerge from this as a “back to business as usual” mentality and seek to be intentional to deal with some of our social values and struggles, perhaps this pressure test will result in better communities, counties, states, countries resulting a better world overall. As much as we never want to see such a crisis again, maybe this is our moment to prepare for a new and improved future where we lean on and help each other in meaningful and exciting ways!