When you are invited to do something in the future, ask yourself if you would say yes if you had to do it tomorrow? I’m talking about stuff like going to dinner, attending a meeting, speaking at an event, grabbing a coffee. If you are rearing to go, then say yes. If you are already dreading it, but begrudgingly say yes, then instead just say no. The immediacy question will clarify your thinking save you a lot of pain later.
The next generation of politicians will tell stories about how their parents were nurses, scientists, teachers, and other healthcare workers. Today’s go-to stump speeches about how their mom or dad worked in a factory will be replaced with a COVID-19 or global warming yarn. Healthcare workers, climate change scientists, and the “essential worker” class will be something that every politician has to identify with and seek approval in the new battle ahead.
Live in neighborhoods and communities where you interact with people from diverse backgrounds and jobs. If the person living in the apartment above you is a policeman, then you’ll have more empathy when he asks you to abide by the law, and he will ask you in a compassionate and kind way. If your kids go to the same school as the grocery clerk down the road, then you’ll be more patient and considerate when you shop and interact with him. The same goes for attorneys, plumbers, accountants, and bankers. It makes it less transactional and more personal if you have see the person the next day.
Being proximate, social pressure, and a sense of community mean that everyone is accountable to their community and their neighbors. I’ve heard people say that the world is divided into “the haves and the have nots.” I think it’s divided into “the Served and Servers.” There’s a separation of the suburban (wealthy served) class and the working “serving” class. The serving class can’t afford to live in high-end neighborhoods, so they commute long distances from far off places. Long commutes segregate people and make interactions anonymous and transactional. That’s why there’s so much political infighting in the US. The structural operating system in the US has separated people, and resentment builds on both sides because there’s no empathy and compassion.
Live where you work and work where you live. I’m hoping that that the current work from home surge during the pandemic will encourage people to shorten commutes, stay proximate and get to know their community.
Everyone has an excuse for breaking the rules. The refrain goes something like this – “We are doing it because they are doing it, and somebody else started it.”
This kind of talk will bubble up more and more as people chafe under pandemic lockdown restrictions and lose their livelihoods. It’ll be hard to open up the economy and then close it again if there’s a second surge infection. Prolonged lockdown periods will see the rebirth of prohibition speakeasy gatherings, secret meetups, and civil disobedience as people seek to trade, barter, and make a living.
Before we have a vaccine, the informal economy will be the underground economy, powered the young and immune.
It is not down on any map; true places never are. – Moby Dick
Today is ANZAC day in Australia, which marks the anniversary of the first campaign that led to significant casualties for Australian and New Zealand forces during WWI and commemorates all the wars that followed.
I was out with my son this morning before the town had woken up. The fountains were off, the escalators were quiet, and a couple of surfers were out on a dawn patrol. Early mornings are the best times with young kids because there is space to play on the benches, little walls, and small grassy knolls. The parks are all closed because of the lockdowns, so we make the best of our urban environment.
There is a war memorial near our house, and as I walked past it with my son that morning, I noticed an old man standing alone and facing the monument. He was wearing an ill-fitting suit with more than a few medals on his jacket. He was standing at attention and saluting. After a while, he turned around and marched away. There was no ceremony, no band, no politicians jumping on the bandwagon, none of the “thank you for your service” crowd in their gas-guzzling SUVs. There was just an old military man paying his respects to the fallen. He was doing it for himself and for the ones who never came home.
It was a reminder to me that we humans are enigmas. Capable of so much cruelty and evil, but also so full of love and goodness. Maybe the next wars aren’t between humans anymore, perhaps it’s between us and this virus, and the next one after this one.
We all know people who always just talk about themselves. The whole conversation and relationship is a one-way street. You know all about their career, their kids, their health status, their wants, and dreams. But they know next to nothing about you, because they don’t ask questions, and don’t remember the answer when they do. It’s not because they are busy, it’s because they don’t value you.
Stop hanging out with these people. They are takers. They aren’t interested in reciprocation. Unless it benefits them, you won’t hear from them again.