You know, when you decide to attend choir practice even though you have a cold, but find out the next day that it was actually COVID, now the 65-year-old choir member who sat beside you has to reschedule his eye surgery because he was a close contact. And since the healthcare systems are so backed up dealing with people with COVID, his surgery is pushed further and further out as his eyesight deteriorates.
Or when you know you have COVID, but you still let your elementary school son go to a friend’s house for a playdate, saying, “Oh, just wear a mask.” And three days later your son has COVID, but so does the friend. And now the friend can’t attend his upcoming competition even though he’s been doing really well in the sport and was very much looking forward to the competition.
But, if you’re one of these people who don’t even “believe” in getting tested for COVID, so while sick with cold symptoms, you attend a sport competition with your child, now your child has COVID and so does a best friend on the team. Now the friend is too sick to attend school and can’t get into remote learning for a couple days and is falling further behind academically at the end of the grading period, thus shifting his academic trajectory. Furthermore, every other kid and family member who was exposed has to spend the next week in the worry of checking for symptoms and getting tested, if they can even find a testing site given the current surge of cases.
When people use the phrase, “We’re in the together,” it’s not just that we need to bond together against this “virus,” it’s that we need to realize how interconnected we really are as human beings. We need to understand that the very decisions we make for ourselves or our family members have a ripple effect that affects the health and the well-being of others. That our decisions have altered another person’s ability to access health care, access learning, or access fun and joyous experiences.
So whether we like it or not; whether we believe in it or not; whether we want to do it or not; none of that matters. What matters is that we need to see each other as precious human beings whose very lives veer onto a new course based on the interaction they have with us. And if we’re passing COVID along, that new course might be a short-lived bout of feeling miserable and missing out or it could be a debilitating shift in the trajectory of life or even the end of life itself.
So what burden do you want to shoulder today?
The burden of being kind and considerate or the burden of hurting another human being?
The choice is yours every single morning.