It was when I was living in Australia that I first heard the apocryphal Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times.” And, I have to say, the going’s gotten weird. A few reflections on the situation, all of course related to COVID-19.
I wrote some months ago about my spring schedule. And, well, as you might’ve guessed, things have changed. My trip to Boston has been postponed for a year (I’ll be giving a webinar for ATD NE). I had added a trip to Brazil in May, which I’d yet to tell you about since they hadn’t gotten a page up, but…it’s been postponed. And my trip to Belgium in June? Not feeling optimistic. (And this isn’t good, personally. As an independent, it’s gigs that pay the way. Need some remote work?)
Remote, because the entire SF Bay Area, where I live, is now on ‘stay home’ mode as of midnight last night. Only essential services and travel are on. Of course work-based travel is acceptable, but right now, no one wants to meet in person. And there’s actually a good reason for this…
This is a really wonderful diagram (ok, my poor rendition of it). It is the clearest depiction of the argument to take extraordinary measures. Simple, elegant. Our health system aims to cope with average levels of problems. We’re talking considerably more than that. This diagram, and the associated label “flattening the curve” really conveys the need for action. But this has really helped convey the necessity. I am using an adaptation to make the case for Community Emergency Response Team, a training initiative I’m engaged in. Which is also postponed.
I worry about much more, of course. We’ve seen weird behaviors (stockpiling toilet paper, an unsymptomatic response), as well as good ones (elbow bumps for greeting). Everyone, and I mean everyone, is weighing in on how to design learning online and how to work remotely. I wasn’t going to, but an editor for one of my columns asked. I at least got agreement to not just talk the basics, but about using the opportunity to rethink.
My biggest concern is the impact on people’s lives! Folks’ livelihoods are at risk. There’s a lot of financial activity that’s not going to be happening (dining, for instance). The implications for many people – diminished income, mortgages or rent unpaid – are a concern. One interesting aside that a colleague noticed: there’s likely to be many more people who know what good hand-washing means now. Please do learn it!
The main thing is to stay safe, for your sake and others. There’s a segment of the population that’s at higher risk, and that’s who we’re needing to help. And keep the need within capacity. We’re not only not equipped, but not supplied, to meet the possible demand when we don’t do enough.
I hope to see you at the other end of this, but stay tuned for all sorts of interim initiatives. We’re living in interesting times, and it’s an opportunity to be innovative, resilient, and humane. Here’s hoping that we become better as a consequence.