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COVID-19: A Wake Up Call


By Christi Ortiz

It’s hard to have empathy for someone’s experience that is so far from your own. It appears this virus is providing us an opportunity to have just a small taste of the pain and trial that many experience every day.  For those of us that live in a bubble of comfort and security, we can sometimes become numb or untouched by the reality of the poverty and suffering around us every day.

For many, having no toilet paper is nothing new, the bigger challenge is where to go the bathroom or how to find a bathroom that doesn’t close you out. Those of us running around frantically raiding stores feel no shame in doing so, imagine you had to hide or be ashamed of searching for ways to meet your biological needs.

If you fear not having enough food, the supplies running out…imagine this is your daily reality.

If you fear you might not be able to get medical care if you get sick because the medical system is overwhelmed, imagine if that was not just a temporary fear, but rather a given reality that you could never afford the treatment you would need. Most likely living with one or more untreated conditions now, because there is no other option.

If you felt no hesitation swiping that credit card to stock up on food or supplies you might need, to give you a sense of comfort, imagine those for which that is impossible right now, or ever.  Extra reserves or credit to draw on, not a chance!

If you feel disconnected from loved ones, unable to visit and be with them, imagine years without seeing family and friends because affording travel is out of the question.

If your vacation plans are crushed and you feel the disappointment of a dream dying, you are not alone, life challenges have broken many hearts set on hopes of a new possibility.

If you feel isolated from your faith community and longing for spiritual and emotional support during this time, imagine you’ve been ostracized or not welcomed into religious services nor felt the love and support of a community that accepts and cares for you.

If you are feeling economic insecurity, worried for your future…what if you were blamed for the situation you are in, when so much of this has been out of your control.

If you are scrambling to find ways to juggle work and child care, or worried your child might not be getting a good education…this has been a pain of many a parent’s heart.

If you are worried how this will impact your job performance or fear not having a job at all, imagine you have a disability and don’t have the comfort of those around you sharing in your experience or feeling the protection of the circumstances.

We can never fully understand the challenges each other faces, but hopefully these opportunities to step out of our normal routines helps grow our compassion, helps dissolve some of our judgements, helps widen our circle of empathy, and live into our common humanity.

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