As a family medicine physician, I am not sure about a whole lot as we turn into the third year of pandemic living. I can’t give you a decent prognosis of where Omicron is going to take us or how many it will take from us. I am not even sure of the public health approach at this moment where COVID seems to outsmart us repeatedly. (A reminder that this is not a failure of science, but is rather how science works. Science is an endless search for answers that are rarely definite.)
What I do know is that we need each other more than ever. COVID has pulled us apart 6 feet at a time, and connection disfigured to the point of not being recognizable from what we knew B.C. (before COVID).
I also know that it is a human instinct to pull further apart from one another when we are under stress. This might lead us to attack one another and to complain endlessly about COVID restrictions. It also leads us to forget the suffering of our neighbors, our community, and those dealing with COVID.
I hope that by recognizing how much we need each other and by also seeing how our fear may manifest in pushing others away, we can overcome the instinct to forget about others and instead reach out to our neighbors to ask if they are OK. Even if we are not 100 percent OK, making that outreach to others is possible. It is good medicine, as much for ourselves as it is for those we are reaching out to.
I turn to a speech I recently found on this month of Martin Luther King’s holiday. Not from Dr. King himself, but a speech from Robert Kennedy, who had the difficult task of announcing to the world that Dr. King had been assassinated. What he implored of the crowd that day in April 1968 still rings true 56 years later:
“What we need is not division … is not hatred … is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom and compassion toward one another. A feeling of justice toward those who still suffer in our country.”
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