You're Going to Die. Be Nice.
I am as weary of the pandemic as the next person. I'm grateful for the nice weather and the ability to gather outside with a few friends and have some semblance of a non-Zoom social experience, but I'm missing normal. I'm also missing kindness and civility.
I think the thing that makes me the saddest about the last few months is the front row seat to really awful behavior toward each other. It manifests itself in hostile glares at the occasional unmasked person in the grocery store, but is especially evident in conversations online in social media or neighborhood newsgroups.
I'm so saddened by the threads on Facebook and NextDoor that are righteous, indignant, sarcastic, and just downright mean. Posts go on and on, with retorts becoming increasingly rude and resorting to name calling. There is obviously no consensus on the value or lack thereof of wearing a mask. There has been inconsistent messaging from the top down on this; it stands to reason that we can't agree. I fail to see ANYONE being persuaded to think differently after being called an ignorant moron or a mindless sheep, however.
What's the most painful for me is that these are people I know saying these things. The other day I was almost in tears over a lengthy Facebook diatribe when it suddenly occurred to me: every single one of these people is going to die one day. Including me.
Is this how we want to spend our days? Is being "right" so much more important than being kind? Ironically, the debate is over keeping people healthy and NOT dead, but we are squandering our lives in a crusade that can't be won.
Let me say that yes, I wear a mask in public. I happen to believe it helps contain the spread of the virus, but even if I didn't believe that, I would wear a mask out of respect for people's fear and a desire to deescalate it. From now on I'm going to stay away from ugly discussions online and elsewhere. I'm going to try to check my own irritation with unmasked shoppers. I'd rather spend my time being compassionate than constantly crabby.
We're all going to die. Let's be nice to each other while we're here, huh?
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Carrie Andrews is a Patient Advocate & Advanced Care Consultant who isn't afraid to talk about dying.