What a time to be alive. We’re in the middle of something that has the potential to be a turning point in history. This is the first pandemic the majority of us has ever experienced and hopefully, will ever experience. It’s also the first pandemic in history in which we have technology as a tool to aid in communication. There will undoubtedly be countless studies researching the behaviours of people during this time, and what might they say so far?
From what I’ve observed, there’s been two kinds of people – there’s been the people who, despite literally the entire world going through the exact same crisis (admittedly to varying degrees), are playing a victim. These are also the people that are likely to be panicking and hoarding supplies – buying in excess rather than in need. Buying for themselves with complete disregard to the remainder of the population. But then there are the people who are supporting those in times of struggle, those that are offering their supplies or facilities to those in need, those that are remaining calm, loving, and generous. So which type of person are you choosing to be?
Crises and adversities have the ability to divide or the ability to connect. I like to see this as an opportunity for the latter. It’s an opportunity for us as humans to get back to the basics of what it means to be human – to look after one another. Last week during a team meeting I held for Salisbury Inter, I proposed this question to my teammates – how can you make someone’s life easier? What is one small thing that you can do that will make a big difference in someone else’s life? I gave the example in soccer of making that extra recovery run to cover your teammate, dropping those extra few metres to drag a defender away from your teammate, or communicating on the field. Those small actions are effortless. But they make a massive difference. And during this period of high stress, I pose that question to all of you – what one, small thing can you do that will have a big impact on someone else?
This is a time of massive uncertainty. And uncertainty is not something that humans readily embrace. Because we crave certainty. We want answers. We want to know how long this damn thing will last. We want to know how we’re going to survive. But the reality is, no one has any answers. No one can predict the future. No one knows how bad this could potentially get. Yes, being uncertain is uncomfortable. And yes, with uncertainty comes feelings of anxiousness, stress, panic, fear. All of which are completely okay to be feeling. As are feelings of disappointment over holidays that need to be cancelled, over jobs that you’ve lost, over family that you might not be able to see. These feelings are okay. And these feelings are to be expected. It’s what makes us human. What’s not okay is the behaviour that results from the anxiousness – the panic buying, the hoarding, the fighting over toilet paper. How are your behaviours making life easier for someone else? Do you really need that extra packet of pasta? Or those extra sanitary items? Or is it possible that you can survive for a week without them?
Stressing about the future won’t make anything more certain in the present. As I already mentioned, no one knows how long any of this is going to last. But what I do know, is that the government will not allow us to suffer. There will be protocols in place to ensure that those small businesses that have had to close, the small businesses that make countries the country that they are, will find a way to reopen. Just as the government will not let people starve because they are out of a job. Look at petrol prices right now – they’re the lowest they’ve ever been in five years. This isn’t something that any single country can monopolise because every country is going through very similar adversities. But what we need from each other, is a collective mentality. A mentality of “how can we get through this” not, “how can I get through this?” That is perhaps why there was such a negative reaction surrounding the Adelaide café that set up a GoFundMe page asking their customers for donations – yes, your business is struggling, but so is the entire industry. Do what you can to not just benefit yourself, but those around you.
As for the stimulus payments, I believe that we should be prioritising those that absolutely need the payments above those that can survive a few days or weeks without them. It’s almost like Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last policy – if you don’t need it, wait. Let those that do need it get in first. In the same way that if you were in the emergency department with a life-or-death ailment, you would want to be treated before someone who might just have a cold.
This is a challenging time for everyone – absolutely every single person in this world will be affected by Covid-19 in some way or another. What a time then, to connect. To come together. To be there for one another. To get to know your neighbours. To spend time with family. To get creative with leisurely activities. This is something bigger than you. It’s bigger than your family. And it’s even bigger than our country. This is about the entire human race relearning what it means to be human and being human means looking out for one another. If we all vouch to take care of those around us, those in our immediate circles and potentially beyond depending on your financial resources, we can all get out of this primarily unscathed.
So yes, this crisis has the potential to bring out the worst in people, but I believe it also has the potential to bring out the very best in people. But that comes down to a choice. So how are you choosing to respond? Are you responding in fear, or in generosity? In selfishness, or in expansiveness? What is one thing you can do to make someone else’s life easier? Check in with your friends, check in with your family, and check in with yourself. We’re all in this together. Literally.