The sound of my log against the chopping block echoed through the empty forest and to the hill across the creek. It was definitely still winter up here. Only the evergreens showed color. Everything else along the valley was bare, freeing the sound to travel loudly from one hill to another.
I can’t believe I’m splitting wood. Why is this log so tough?
F**k you Satan, and your stupid Coronavirus.
Finally. The log splintered into pieces that would fit in our small cabin wood stove.
Best. Therapy. Ever. This even rivals running.
God, we need a vaccine. Now. Yesterday. Yesterday we needed a vaccine.
That morning we had loaded up both our car and our van and relocated to a family cabin further north. The past week had been a confusing and jumbled blur of directives being handed down from our state governor, and the American president, Mr. Trump himself. The COVID-19 pandemic had finally hit the shores of America and was rapidly making its way inland.
Austin and I weren’t paranoid about the virus, but with school closed and the expanding restrictions regarding public spaces, we started making a plan in the event that an enforced lockdown was on the way. Our minimalist lifestyle of making do in a three-bedroom city row home had suddenly become a nightmare. With little yard to speak of and six kids to entertain all day, a mental health crisis for me felt imminent within a week, and there was no telling how long the containment effort would continue. A temporary move to a rural location would help keep us all sane.
On the drive north, the kids had been quiet, content to listen to music and nap along the way. All the emotions of the week finally caught up as I had a chance to process more. I thought of the playground where we congregated with neighbors and friends almost daily when the last school bell rang. It was a hyperlocal, connected group. My eyes stung as several faces came to mind. I knew these individuals were out of work right now. More of them would probably be soon. I wondered how they were doing. No one would have guessed our lives would look like this just a short week ago.
By now, all of us have been impacted by the current pandemic. I’ll be honest, it took me a few days to get on board with what was going on. In my short 33 years, America has lived in mostly prosperity, and there hasn’t been a war on our own soil for a long, long time. I’ve never felt afraid here – not even during 9/11 – and I still don’t, but things are certainly unusual, and uncomfortable, at the moment. Sure, we’ve had (and still have) our crime trends and racial differences to figure out. We go through economic recessions. However, the Great Depression and World Wars, while relatively recent in history, still feel entirely distant from my American life. The sudden travel restrictions, forced event cancellations, and business closures were unthinkably authoritarian. Was this necessary? Putting a gigantic wrench into our economy like this? Mostly, I just couldn’t believe it was actually happening; this big, diverse, free market, small government, business-loving, land of liberty and home of the brave was actually being brought to a standstill by our own government.
But as I listened to discussions about the pandemic and learned more about the virus itself, I felt convicted we needed to do our part. I am accustomed to always watching things happen ‘over there’, somewhere, anywhere really. Anywhere but here. Asia and Europe were already in the throes of the virus battle, why should America be any different? As of the writing of this post, NYC, a few hours from us, is the current epicenter on our east coast.
I have concluded, since we don’t work in healthcare, the best our family can do for our medical workers is follow their guidelines and try to keep us out of the hospital so others can use it right now. Since our industry isn’t getting hit like many others, the best we can do for our local businesses is be financially generous in any way we can. Since our schools can’t have their doors open, the best we can do is help our kids learn from home. Since I am not employed outside the home, the best I can do for our family, and our country, is keep myself mentally and physically healthy here so that I can help our kids do the same as we continue through this.
Recently, Emmanuel Macron has eloquently called for French and European solidarity in the face of the current crisis. He also implied that a free market country like America is ill equipped to handle this crisis due to our adherence to limited government and market economics. While our political system is far from perfect (and let’s be honest, no government ever is, nor will be perfect) and we’ve already done more than our fair share of blundering, I still differ with Mr. Macron. I believe we can work together in effective solidarity here as well, even with limited government. But, it’s up to each one of us to seriously do our part.
The current crisis is not about us, individually. That is a very difficult concept for our culture, myself certainly included, to accept. We Americans tend to thrive on our individual freedom of choice and disdain ‘Big Brother’ telling us what we can and cannot do. And so we should. Right now the restrictions we are being asked to follow are about us collectively. Each one of us, regardless of political affiliation or country of residence, is necessary to help get this pandemic under control, but we have to work together.
Godspeed to our scientists and medical staff the world over as they continue working the front lines and develop a vaccine for us all. Our prayers are with you. May God grant our leaders wisdom to strike the right balance in appropriate containment efforts with the least economic fallout possible. We are in this together.