As we continue to live and love during the time of the Coronavirus pandemic, we are learning more and more each day about the virus and its effect on the human body. We are also learning, rather starkly in many cases, a great number of lessons about how we, collectively, respond to crisis. I’ve recently read that COVID-19 is not the great equalizer, as others have opined, but rather the great revealer. I am in complete agreement: what the pandemic has revealed is the rich goodness that resides in our communities and, also, the peril that many people faced before and are acutely suffering from during and, likely, after the crisis.
What’s been revealed is that there is little to no safety net or support for a great number of Americans. Many workers do not have paid sick leave, and do not have the financial security to endure the lost wages. Lack of affordable health care and access to health care is exacerbated right now. My hope is that these shortcomings in the fabric of our nation will ignite action to correct these inequities as we move through the waves of uncertainty and determination.
Many of us are also seeing how much our schools and teachers are the critical backbone of support for our children and families. With remote learning in place, there is also the realization that many children do not have access to the devices or internet service required for this type of educational access. A famous playwright and celebrity recently quipped after trying to homeschool his children for the past five weeks that teachers should be paid millions of dollars. They are the real stars, he added.
For me, I am seeing how my own neighbors are coping in ways that were previously unknown, hidden in plain sight. I am now much more aware of these disparities than before: the essential services that provide food, shelter, education, and safety are needed more than ever. I see so much need, so many ways where we as a nation, as a community, can do better.
As a wise friend told me when the full force of the crisis arrived in our town in March, history has shown us that with every crisis, be it world wars or pandemics, there is a lot of good and change that also comes out of the dark days. These types of changes that we need, and need now, have also revealed who the true leaders are. It’s revealed leaders, those who let evidence-backed information guide their decisions, be it during times of peace and prosperity or what we’re facing right now.
This great reveal is not easy. It’s rather uncomfortable, really. But it’s part of what we must deal with, just as we continue to follow the recommendations and policies to keep the virus in check. This great reveal, I believe, has the beautiful capacity to transform us for the better.
Maggie Doherty is the owner of Kalispell Brewing Company on Main Street.