Well, this is some crazy shit.
If you’re reading this in 2020, you probably know without a doubt I’m referencing the pandemic CoVid-19 (novel Corona Virus 2019). There isn’t a corner of the globe that hasn’t been hit to one degree or another, and it has leveled the playing field for humans everywhere.
It is teaching us equality in subtle and cruel ways, an oddly beautiful prod in such a scary and altering time.
In 1998 I was a fine arts major with a specialization in K-12 education at a small local college here in Buffalo – Daemen College. It was an awesome program because it was small and dedicated to individual expression unlike the larger program at a state college in town. I loved it, and the people.
As a typical college freshman, I didn’t always get my work for non-art classes done quickly. Often I waited until the last possible moment which sometimes meant the very morning it was due. (It’s the quickstart in me – I know I can execute quick and with good quality.) The morning I distinctly remember was cold as I was sitting in my father’s car waiting to be dropped off at school for the day. I was dreading having to quickly write a paper for my composition class sometime between drawing class and lunch.
It was the 22nd of October, and oddly chilly – I could see my breath in the car even though it was running to warm up, and as always the radio was playing. It was an AM station (anyone remember those?) for local news and weather and sports. Trying to ignore how cold I was I tried actually paying attention to the news report that morning.
Weather. Sports. Some commercials.
Local news that stole any bit of warmth I had generated while shivering in the car that early morning.
The death of a local college student. A girl who went to Daemen. Dressed all in black. Struck by a car on Sweethome Road in the dark. Because she was trying to tend to a cat that had been struck by another car just moments before.
I knew who it was. I knew the girl. She was in my classes, and even though they didn’t release her name on the radio, I knew it was her.
A girl who was goth, a bit odd, a social outcast, and who didn’t really fit in with the crowd – let alone at a school mostly known for its physical therapy program. A girl who all-too-routinely had accidents with her Xacto knife.
A girl who wasn’t valued as much because she was different.
That was her. She gave her life in helping another life. That’s who her mother later said she was, but we, her classmates, didn’t know that because she was “the other”.
“The other” can be defined as people who are not like you, that you see as opposite enough to be wrong or not deserving of consideration. “The other” is what we see largely today politically, even amidst the CoVid-19 pandemic. They are the people who aren’t taking it seriously enough to those who are hyper-aware. They are those that have been manipulated by the media to those that believe this is just the flu.
Each has an “other”.
But this pandemic doesn’t differentiate based on what you believe. It doesn’t care what news station you watch or don’t. It will move stealthfully through mixed populations regardless of gender, age, color, or whether you like Brussels sprouts or not.
We’re all the same.
“And death makes equal the high and low”John heywood
That morning, Daemen lowered it’s flags and made announcements across the campus P.A. systems that were only ever used in emergencies. We had a moment of silence. On a campus of 1,200, we mostly knew each other at least by face, and Amanda was recognizable.
It was a somber day, and still my paper needed to be written for Comp. I don’t remember any longer what the theme or topic or objective of the paper was. I just remember that Amanda’s death was exactly what needed to be discussed, and it fit. It unfortunately fit.
I quoted John Heywood in my paper because it was true: “And death makes equal the high low.”
We all became equal in that moment. We learned that this girl had a heart like we all did. That she was not lesser, that she was equal. And it bothered us collectively to see the ugliness we had shown her while she was here – that we made her the other, the lesser.
And that’s what we face right now because this virus sees us all the same. Sadly, with shortages of supplies, there will be heavy decisions to be made and it will have a dire impact on everyone. Who lives, who dies. Did you know a team of medical experts are trying to create a formula in Washington State so that doctors and nurses don’t have to be saddled with as much pain for making those decisions individually? A formula, to determine who will get the supplies and ventilators and live, and who won’t and will instead die. That is the reality of the time we are in.
The decisions are not equal, though the human lives are.
This is a time to usurp death and decide to be equal before death strikes – and it will strike. You will lose someone you know. We all will.
But how we decide to BE in this moment, and going forward over the next few months (and beyond) will define what our future will look like. Your choices right now matter, as an individual and part of the human community on this planet.
You matter and your actions matter – they carry ripples and the world responds to your actions.Kara Andretta
If you have any internal struggle about choosing what to do in a given moment, become the 90-year-old version of yourself. What choice would make 90-year-old You proud of today You for making? Look back and ask, “What would make me proud to say I did right now?”
For me and mine, we’re staying home, indoors and on our own property. We aren’t even visiting my parents who live a 5-minute walk around the corner. My husband works at an essential service so he goes out daily helping people, bravely. At least if he comes home with the virus we will contain it within our home by not going out.
We (hubby and I) have also been finding medical supplies for the professionals who put their lives in direct peril, like my sister – a Respiratory Therapist in a local hospital. Because we see and know things (that’s what we do) we’ve mobilized our knowledge and taken action to ask for grand accommodations in moving supplies from retail to hospital. Two people who just see what possibilities can be and not believing they “can’t”.
I blog here. I share things to do at home on my big page for caking, since being a homeschooler I can help our into parents who never signed up for being the primary educator of their kids let alone stuck at home doing it. I can have virtual coffee shops where communities of peers can come every morning and just be together and share. I can make cake and share my skills, for both entertainment of others and growth of their own skillsets.
I have gifts to give. So do you.
We are each equally powerful to help.
We are each equally responsible to protect the other.
We are all important in this fight.
You CAN make a difference. And I challenge you to do just that.