Have you noticed that everyone is on edge? Regardless of where you are or who you are with, everyone has an opinion about everything, and no one is listening to what anyone else has to say. One of the most noticeable fallouts of the pandemic is that people have become rude and condescending to even family members in times when there should be unconditional love and forgiveness. I don’t know about you but I’m over it. Taking your stress out on the rest of humanity for the downside of your situation or because you’re missing out is not cool, it is not the answer and it will not make the pandemic go away. Yes, there are people who are doing great deeds for the rest of humanity and who are trying to smile behind their masks, but it is the negativity that shuts out the light from the good.
I’ve heard analysts say we are in a time of grieving and not just over the immense loss of life. People are grieving because lives have been lives turned upside down from jobs to finances to just being stuck looking at the same four walls for months on end. It is August and the country has been in pandemic mode since March. Recently I saw a Facebook post that suggested we should all put up our Christmas trees, throw a New Year’s party and maybe 2020 will go away. Well you can indeed put up your Christmas tree, but 2020 is not going to end any sooner. Planned business events have been cancelled, summer vacation plans have been put on hold for most of us and those who are traveling are doing so with masks and more caution than usual, social distancing and coming up short on places to dine and sites to visit.
The Longevity Project of Next Avenue had a Zoom conference on ageism – the newest ism. Covid-19 began with a major focus on the “at-risk” group of people over 65 (which by the way is now 50 in some areas). As the months have gone on, however, it is the younger generation’s need to party, socialize and congregate that has become the age focus. The Longevity Project conference had over 300 participants and the discussions focused on how aging has been viewed during the pandemic. There were the usual gripes that older people in America are generally shunned after a certain age as being useless, discounted, or disposable and just plain stupid. It is as though our brains fell out and any experience we’ve accumulated is discounted. However, more people participating in the conference suggested “that we can borrow some of the wonderful action and work being done by young people to try to bridge other divides and tackle social inequities and try to apply it to our “aging” negative age bias.” Indeed, I have been fortunate to work with a creative, innovative and smart group of young people during the pandemic to market and promote my book, One Caregiver’s Journey. They, in turn, have listened to my suggestions and questions. We have all been affected by the pandemic – most of them now work remotely and I, too, am stuck at home. Older people don’t always have opportunities that younger people have to continue moving forward in a workforce. But each age group can learn from the other if we would just relax.
The recent social unrest has brought light to inequality in schools, employment, salaries, health care and the list goes on and on and it isn’t only people of color who are highlighted it is young, old and women of all colors and ages. In the past few months lots of people have grown a huge chip on their shoulder over one facet or another of inequality. Here’s my take: if you treat others with the dignity and respect you want to receive the world just might become a better place for all of us. Young people have got to learn to exist in a world where not everyone agrees with their stance on a topic and the right way to do something isn’t always found on the internet. The news reports more and more that when people disagree with one another it is a license to pull out a revolver and shoot the other person. Read the stories of how many people are getting into altercations, causing property damage, or harm to others because they refuse to wear a mask. The age of social media has allowed us to hide behind hurtful words and posts and for intruders or “bad actors” to meddle and turn truth into conspiracy theories that cause more unrest. Is it any wonder we are in a state of unrest and that everyone is on edge.
The current mental climate of hot and cold temperament is going to take all of us working together to return to anything that vaguely resembles a normal existence. This isn’t about our constitutional rights being violated it is about preserving life, your own included. So, take a deep breath and a few steps backward and look at the bigger picture of what is going on in our world. Go with the flow, stay out of bars, off beaches, hiking trails and out of crowds. Don’t sing in church, if you’re brave enough to venture into church. We can beat the pandemic and we can return to life and in the process maybe, just maybe, we can learn to appreciate the differences of our fellow citizens.