November 16, 2020

I Salute You—the Heroes of the Pandemic Nobody Talks About.

There is a widespread feeling of something being taken away.

Concerts, sport events, private gatherings, and other community activities had been cancelled this year. People are missing these moments of joy. Others are hit even harder—they’ve lost their job because of the pandemic. Artists, event managers, yoga teachers, waiters, and many more are facing severe financial struggles.

Now the next drama is around the corner: Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Will they take that away from us too? The answer is probably yes. But let’s rephrase what is actually happening and give it some positive meaning.

I want to thank you. I see you. 

There has been a lot of talk about silent heroes, but most of these talks forget to mention some of the bravest people in our community: the parents dealing with school closures, the couples figuring out how to not end up fighting every day, and the ones who learn to deal with solitude.

I am talking about all these heroes who haven’t spoken up yet. The ones who did their best dealing with the situation without getting much attention. Heroes do not always wear capes, sometimes they just sit at home and read a book.

Let’s not forget about all the children having a hard time with these circumstances. There are many inspiring kids out there doing an incredible job in supporting their parents. It is has not been easy for the youngest ones either.

Families are coming together—virtually—to hold space for each other. Many of us were looking forward to spending time with our loved ones on Thanksgiving—but it’s not going to happen.

Holidays are meant to bring people together, they are not supposed to be a survival challenge—what a brave move it can be to explain this to our parents. As much as we love getting together, this time it wouldn’t be a good choice. It’s not an easy choice, but a necessary one.

What could be more caring than saying: “I don’t want to put my loved ones at risk and refrain from this year’s celebration?” If family matters to us, we shouldn’t have to think twice about this. That’s why we got together before the pandemic, wasn’t it? To show each other that we care.

We achieved so much together. Eight months of personal sacrifices to protect others. It didn’t all work out perfectly, but we knew that humanity wasn’t perfect long before the pandemic started.

The pandemic amplifies problems that already existed for far too long. Mental health is one of these problems. Folks are struggling with loneliness. Humans are scared of a virus.

We should always keep in mind that fear shows in different ways. Some avoid the public to protect themselves from the virus, others are so scared that their emotions shift their thoughts toward denial. Many so-called Covid-deniers are actually scared of the virus—but denial and anger is their reaction to it.

The same dynamic applies to our friends who fall for conspiracy theories. Paranoia arises from fear. The feeling of being overwhelmed paired with a lack of ability to process information can lead to a longing for simple answers. That’s where Qanon, Infowars, and Breitbart come to the stage. They provide these simplified false realities folks are craving.

We don’t have to deal with our crazy uncle this Thanksgiving, but he might need our help more than ever. Loved ones are drifting into alternative realities—let’s help them to get out of the rabbit-hole. We can still show up for them with a caring message or an open dialogue in a video conference.

It is time to celebrate all these people who keep society going. The ones who just do their thing and try to inspire others. Reading, writing, listening, and sharing are human skills, which are more needed than ever before: they are superpowers these days. Let’s use them.

This is a serious mental health crisis. It has been a lot this year. And that is why you are my hero—simply by being who you are.

If you still manage to eat food every day, have a shower, and get some sleep—I salute you. 

If you still have the energy to reach out to others—I am impressed by your strength.  

If you still have the patience to remind others of wearing a mask—I admire you. 

If you are still at home and  working on yourself—I am blown away by your courage. 

You know who you are; you are doing a great job.

Keep up the good work.


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