The demands placed on many people providing essential services in the midst of the global pandemic continue to increase. For the people who are doing everything they possibly can to meet those demands, and sacrificing their own needs in service to others, I am truly grateful, especially because most people could not do what they do.
Since measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus have taken effect, various people, from all walks of life, regardless of ability, now experience essential outings like going to the grocery store as a major ordeal. Many used to take these seemingly simple tasks of daily living for granted but now find the requirement to maintain physical distancing and other precautions in public spaces to be mentally exhausting. It is understandable that few are able to maintain the same pace of life as they did pre-pandemic.
Some might not realize that this was the reality for many individuals and families who experience disability long before the global pandemic made it societally acceptable. Tasks such as directing support workers, coordinating accessible transit or functioning in a busy and sometimes chaotic environment like a grocery store requires physical and mental energy that some do not have at the best of times.
A friend of mine recently put it this way; “I really want the pandemic to end soon because it is dangerous and scary for everyone. In the meantime, I am grateful that the entire world is temporarily living life at my speed. Some finally understand what it is like for a trip to the grocery store to be the maximum they can handle for one day. For the first time in a long time I do not feel like I have to struggle to keep up.”
How will you remember this pandemic? Our world may be changed forever by it. It may be changed for the better. It may even be more heaven-like if we refrain from judging others by their speed of productivity.
Currently we can feel as though we are trapped in our homes. However, there is a window out of self-isolation into the experience of many others; those who must always do life at a slower pace. There is hope that our society will be permanently improved if we can remember the experience of being exhausted by a seemingly small task.
Jesus calls us to empathize with one another, to be extremely gracious with each other: he says, “If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles,” (Matt. 5:41). In this global pandemic many of us have actually felt forced to do the opposite. That is, not to walk a mile but instead to stay home. Nevertheless, the principle of practising empathy and graciousness still applies.
Instead of judging those who live their normal life at a slower pace than we do, or competing with them, perhaps it is possible that we could learn to refrain from the expectation that others perform tasks which we find simple with little effort, or at significant speed. Let us continue to develop and implement Christ-like empathy and compassion, collaboration and support for one another long after the global pandemic has resolved.