D. Louise Brown

Louise Brown

When the 5.6-magnitude Magna-centered earthquake woke us up on a sleepy Wednesday morning almost two weeks ago, we were startled by it. But as the aftershocks lessened, we turned our focus back to the serious task of battling the COVID-19 virus.

But like that early morning earthquake, this pandemic isn’t “the big one” that wipes us out — unless we make it that way. As the days pass and that kick to the gut when we wake up and remember what’s going on decreases, we’re starting to adapt. It’s what we humans do. We adapt or die, or go to pieces. But with adaptation comes a false sense of security: “Hey, I’ve got this. I know how to go to the store and not get sick.” Well no, we don’t. We’re not equipped with special vision that lets us peer into the realm of microscopic virus germs to see where they’re hanging out. If I can’t sew a face mask of four layers of fabric that provides enough protection to keep those germs out of my body, I’m not messing with them. I’m staying home.

The virus will cease when it can no longer transmit to human beings. So right now, this very week, we cannot slack off, let our guard down or become casual in our vigilance. For the sake of everyone, stay home. Go on vital errands only — alone — and then go home. Unless you are part of that heroic essential force that takes care of us, stay home. We’re gravely indebted to those essential workers. The best way to thank them is to stay out of their way, stay away from their families and stay home. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s directive says it best: “Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives.”

I hear pundits shouting this will damage the economy. Well, let’s be real. It’s already damaged, and it’s going to be damaged for a while. Damage is part of the natural aftermath of a global pandemic. But the only aftermath that cannot be recuperated are those lives taken by the virus. So let’s keep the priorities where they should be.

Now, let’s talk about hope. Because as long as there are humans left on this earth, there is hope. Signs of hope abound. For weeks, you couldn’t buy a live chick anywhere. Some folks have become chicken farmers, spurred by the notion that if you can’t buy eggs at the store, you can raise chickens in the backyard and gather your own. Bravo! That’s the spirit!

You also couldn’t buy garden seeds. Now think about that. People who purchase garden seeds have immense hope. It means we believe all is not lost, that the seasons will roll on, and that if we plant seeds and cultivate them, we will harvest food. Even if we’ve never done it before. That is courageous hope.

There’s hope that toilet paper will once again appear on store shelves. The entire nation is hoping for that. Meanwhile, we make do with what we have and hope for the day when we can once again purchase those giant packages, because next time we’re going to have a couple of those on hand, right?

Home-schooling parents clearly have hope for the future. Why else would they plow through algebra with a surly teen, or patiently study endless lists of spelling words and multiplication tables with their younger ones if they didn’t think those kids had a future?

We hope — actually we long for the day when we can safely hug one another, cook for each other, congregate, plan a vacation, celebrate birthdays and weddings, eat out, return to school, visit a rest home, go to church, buy groceries without fear, help carry something for someone, attend a ball game or concert or conference or family gathering, share things, offer a ride to someone, get a haircut, put the hand sanitizer aside, walk into a friend’s house, and discard that awkward distancing that is anything but social.

But for now, our focus is to do what it takes to ensure we all have a future. We know our respective roles. For some, it’s to fulfill essential tasks. For others, it’s to stay out of their way. Isolation isn’t fun. We’re learning firsthand the truthfulness of the statement, “No man is an island.” But if our ultimate goal is to once again be together, then for a season, we can stay apart. Stay home, stay safe and save lives. We can do this.

P.S. And fill out your census. You certainly have the time.

D. Louise Brown lives in Layton. She writes a biweekly column for the Standard-Examiner.

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