Character doesn’t change in a crisis.
An old saying rings true these days: Character is how you behave when there’s no one around to see you.
While as individuals and families we are currently, for the most part, stuck in our houses, that means there are few people around to see how we behave with each other.
That’s a good thing most days.
Because there are certainly lots of situations where the worst qualities we have are being tempted to rear their ugly heads.
In our house when someone starts to get an attitude we are coming up with creative ways to describe it. Like …pithy. An old-fashioned word we often use to describe my mother-in-law, who died 20 years ago.
Dolores would get a look on her face, her lips pursed and nose wrinkled, and she’d say something…pithy. Meant to sting a little or cast a bit of a bad light on the subject of her comment.
She wasn’t a gossip, she didn’t egg other people on, but once in a great while she would let her feelings be known.
While we all can get a little edgy, I’m thankful that we are loving, concerned people, that we are looking out for each other, and that so far we don’t have any really obnoxious character flaws that could result in someone getting hurt.
At least up to today.
In our local area I’ve heard stories about a lot of people showing just how kind and other-centered they are. People making cloth masks to cover the official ones, groups assembling meals for health care workers, likewise for truckers and others who need to be on the road.
Food and supplies seem to be the main focus of those getting out to do some volunteering, taking care of people’s basic needs.
At least in the efforts they are putting forth, I think it shows their good character.
And then there are others.
I want to start by saying that I don’t open and follow and get sucked into all the so-called news items that I see scrolling on Facebook or that people send to me on my phone.
But I have heard about some of them.
And I’ve gotten phone calls that seemed opportunistic and were probably scams. I don’t engage with them either.
Because a person’s character really doesn’t change in a crisis, good or bad.
Actually, I think people tend to exercise their strongest traits when under pressure. People who would help any stranger they meet are frustrated at home, looking for ways to reach out and help. And people who are only out for number one will still find a way to advance their own welfare.
I bring this up because there is a lot of blame going around on social media and in many fake news types of posts (at least in the titles I see scrolling), and beyond being frustrating and … okay, I’m going to use what qualifies as a cuss word in our house … stupid! … it’s not doing anything to help anybody where they are currently living through this pandemic.
I wonder, as I’m sure many people do, where this novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 came from. Exactly how did it start. But I don’t want to know so I can point a finger and say, “Aha! You’re the culprit!”
I want to know that scientists are doing some real scientific investigation and figuring out why all of a sudden a virus that usually causes a cold or flu is sweeping around the globe leaving thousands of people dead and many more affected.
And I know that takes time, and isn’t glamorous.
I want to know that if this is like flus that tend to come back year after year, that some of those scientists are developing a vaccine to help us all fight it the next time around.
I want to see a list of symptoms that don’t change, sometimes daily. Perhaps there are official sites that have unchanging information, but what is being passed around anecdotally seems to have altered several times over the last few weeks.
I want to have an actual description from people who have had the virus and lived to tell about it as to what their personal symptoms were like, because as I hear from friends of friends about people who are sick with COVID-19, they seem to have symptoms different from what the media is telling us.
If those were the types of stories out for common consumption, I might bite and take a look at them.
But really people, is there any logic at all in saying that any country, government, or government official is to blame for the spread of this virus?
Because we just don’t have that kind of control over these things.
We can sit around with all this time on our hands and second guess each other. Or we could start studying to become epidemiologists so that we can then, and only then, say with any authority how COVID-19 got started and spread.
A virus cares nothing about any country, state or city’s public policy, nor will the amount of information shared about it and the timing of that information make a bit of difference in a pandemic running its course.
As I listen to and heed the measures our state of Ohio has been taking over the last weeks, I’m glad that there is at least a system in place that can communicate the current best practices to the general public.
But whether I choose to follow those guidelines or mandates comes back around to character.
I know it is frustrating for many Americans right now with the political season of presidential politics being disrupted by something too small to see. And it is very tempting to take out ones frustrations on people you don’t have any respect for, or who you feel have in some way adversely affected your life.
I would like to suggest that instead of spreading around these non-stories that only inflame one group against another, that we all look around us for someone whose life we can make a little bit more bearable until we can be out and about again.
After all the fake news people keep sending me, a newsy account of what’s been going on in your life and household, preferably on paper in your own handwriting, would be something I could spend all day reading over and over.
Even if you get a little pithy.