Matching my words with my actions.
It was maybe the fourth day of my quarantine, and Governor Mike DeWine has not yet declared the Stay At Home order in Ohio. Restaurants and businesses now provided delivery and curbside service. Although you cannot dine-in or shop around inside, you can still go out and support the economy. Also, during this time, President Donald Trump continued to call COVID19 a “Chinese Virus.” Annoyed and frustrated with our nation’s leader, I sat at the dinner table with my parents discussing my quarantine routine.
“And,” I continued, “I think we need to order food from our favorite local places and leave a generous tip. We have enough money to do so.”
“Beta,” my mother said, “eating from restaurants all the time is not healthy. It’s too many calories.”
“Mom, I am not saying all the time. I am just saying that sometime this week, we should order Chinese food from a local business because Trump is being racist…again. And, they’re getting hurt the most by this pandemic.” I retorted.
“No, it’s too many calories.” my mother said dismissing me.
“You have a well-equipped home gym! You can exercise whenever!” I exclaimed feeling my blood boil with rage. “We can afford to eat from these restaurants! This helps the economy and maybe will soften the blow of whatever economic crisis we will get in. Isn’t our duty to help others?”
“Nikki is right,” my dad said calmly. “Let her order the food and leave a generous tip.” And, just like that, the argument was over. Although I was surprised when my dad took my side, I couldn’t believe that my mother was more upset about calories than anything else. She often says to me that we have to help others and step-up when people are in need, but when the moment came to do so, my mother hid behind calories. I don’t think my mom didn’t want to help others. Rather, I think she was concerned that she needed to eat healthy for her immune system. However, this conversation made me realize that privilege isn’t always addressed.
Yes, I have privilege. We all have it in some way, shape or form. COVID19 has brought to light people’s privilege and (quite frankly) their ignorance to it. Privilege is a special right, advantage, or immunity granted to a particular person or group. Put simply, privilege is the luxury to not think past your own needs. For example, if I were still in school, I would not worry about my classes being switched to online. I have a laptop, Wi-Fi and plenty of food. If anything happened to my laptop, I could always afford a new laptop to take my classes. So, my thought process would end there. However, if I didn’t have this privilege, I would be thinking about how to afford a laptop, where to get to Wi-Fi and if I had enough food to eat. For my mother, she’s always had the privilege to eat out whenever she felt like it. In this situation, her privilege didn’t allow her to see past her own diet.
Throughout this pandemic, I find myself very lucky that I don’t have to worry about my job, my house or my lifestyle being changed drastically. I have everything I need in my home. However, not everyone is as lucky as me, which is something I address daily. I shop at local businesses and I order food from local restaurants whenever I can. If I order delivery, I leave the highest tip amount possible. Lastly, I stay at home so I can save lives. But, this doesn’t mean that I am fearless throughout this crisis.
As Mr. Fred Rogers often taught us, we should look at the heroes during a time of crisis; however, I cannot help thinking about those who aren’t helping. I find myself reading Facebook statuses about how “this is an overreaction,” or “I am not going to let corona stop me from partying.” I have to fight the urge to yell and scream, “READ THE FUCKING NEWS AND LISTEN TO THE WORLD’S TOP DOCTORS WHEN THEY SAY THIS IS A BIG DEAL!”
Moreover, I find myself thinking more about those who are hoarding supplies. I know they do this out of fear. I know those who hoard are rational people who understand that we are in the middle of a pandemic. Also, I know they aren’t bad people. They’re simply scared, which allows them to be disconnected from the larger problem at hand. So, their fear justifies them taking too many precautions. They’re buying up all the toilet paper even though they’re allowed to leave their homes to buy the essentials; they’re buying all the surgical masks to wear around even when the doctors say you can only get coronavirus through touch and you only need the masks if you have the virus; and, they’re not willing to share because they need to make sure they’re okay. (I get it, but I don’t agree with it.)
Fear is a normal reaction to this pandemic. It’s okay to be scared. However, fear should not make us selfish. Fear gives a sense of self-importance which blinds us from the consequences of our actions. For example, I wanted to buy all the pints of milk and eggs I could get a hold of when told coronavirus came to Ohio. But, as I stood in the aisles of Kroger, I asked myself: do I need all of the milk and eggs? I reminded myself of what our state officials said about getting only what you need. I took a deep breath, acknowledged my fear, and only bought items in the quantities I needed.
When fear takes over, we allow ourselves to disconnect from the community’s needs. We start focusing on our needs, rather than a collective need. Our priority to save ourselves ends up hurting the community.
Where to go from here.
If you have surgical masks and don’t have the virus, please donate them to hospitals. My mother is a pulmonologist who will be treating coronavirus patients. She, and many nurses, need them more than we do.
If you are hoarding an abundance of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting products that you will not finish in this lifetime, then give it to those who didn’t make it to the store in time. Don’t see this as a capitalist opportunity to make money off people’s fear but a time to be there for someone.
Dark times bring out the worst in us only when we let fear control us. Please, be mindful, be kind, and remember that you’re not the only one going through this. It’s fucking cheesy to say, “we are in this together.” But, the truth is…we are in this together. Communities thrive when people, regardless of their difference, come together to help each other.
Don’t think about the calories when ordering food from local restaurants. Admit to yourself it’s okay to be scared. Remind yourself of what you actually need. And, lend a helping hand whenever you can. By doing all of this, you’re addressing your privilege.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned.