Coronavirus. Everyone is talking about it, and the opinions run the gamut from “but it’s just old people and people with compromised immune systems!!” to emptying the toilet paper shelves at Costco.
We wholeheartedly encourage calm, rational action in all aspects of life. And, can we take a moment on the “it’s just old/compromised immune people” thing?!
🚨Warning: Rant Ahead.🚨
Disclaimer: none of this is to admonish you personally! This is a letter addressing some things I've seen in the general milieu. You, beautiful human, are probably not culprit here. And if you are, may this be inspiration to soften, open, and grow.
In my wholehearted and certainly biased opinion, this idea that “I’ll be fine.You’ll be fine” smacks of privilege (sorry/not sorry, I know that’s a trigger word for some!), ageism, and chronic illness stigma.
Just because you have access to good healthcare and aren’t old or chronically ill...doesn’t mean we have subtly (or not so subtly) cast those who are more vulnerable from our hearts—which is essentially what those sentiments are doing (and what these people experience on a daily basis, independent of viral outbreaks).
This is not a time to exclude ANYONE from our care and protection—especially those who are most vulnerable. Taking smart measures to prevent disease spread for yourself is also an act of love and service to all humans.
Why It's Privilege
ANY time we center (focus on) ourselves and our own circumstances around an issue that is actually hurting other people, we are exposing our fleshy privilege. Saying that you or I won't be impacted by the issue is failing to acknowledge the many people who will be impacted—who will lose their own lives or that of loved ones.
Health care in the US SUCKS (don't get me started!) Here, it is absolutely a privilege and not a right, and because of that, many people don't have the access they need.
Instead: let's use this moment in time as inspiration to take a little extra precaution because not everyone has the same access as we do.
Why It's Ageism
"It's just old people" who need to be concerned. I've heard this phrase literally dozens of times since Coronavirus concern started to become a zeitgeist. If that doesn't sing loud and clear that we relate to our wizened elders as irrelevant and disposable, I don't know what is.
Actual conversation I saw on Facebook today:
"10 people have died in Seattle."
"Yeah but all but one of those were from an elderly care facility."
THESE ARE OUR ELDERS. Wisdom-holders. Our lineage. Our grandparents. In many cultures, these are the most respected people in society. In ours, we cordon them off to homes.
Instead: may we all show extra care and protection because it is our elders who are most at risk.
Why It's Chronic Illness Stigma
To every person out there living with chronic illness, I'm sorry for the invisibility, the perceived contagiousness, the "you don't look sick" and the "have you tried ______?" you hear all. the. time.
To every person saying, "Well, if you don't have a compromised immune system, you'll be fine," do you see how that is outright dismissive of people who DO?
Just remember, it only takes one tick bite / one undiscovered mold issue / one sickness you catch and just can't shake / one freak accident to suddenly be one of "them."
Instead: may we all use this as inspiration to reach out to someone we know who suffers from chronic health issues and send them a little care and tenderness.
Just to reiterate: I don't mean to admonish you, personally! In all likelihood, ye who read this are already highly aware, sensitive people who deeply care about all humans regardless of privilege/age/health.
I view Coronavirus as an issue of civil service and care for our fellow humans, and keeping ourselves healthy is a way to protect others from viral spread.
Want to read what I'm doing to help keep my immune system strong and healthy? Check it out here.
1. U.S. reports ninth coronavirus death as the virus continues to spread; Fed cuts interest rate https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/03/03/coronavirus-live-updates/?fbclid=IwAR02yVL3CBYkyASR3wXt0C6eQdKZV75XQ8vNcWXBGCcXxqCFNwEXmXQR56g, accessed 3/4/20 at 1:12 pm MST