The COVID-19 shutdown. This phrase triggers so many different emotions in different people—and many people hold conflicting emotions within themselves. Fear of the virus; frustration at perceived overreactions and government overreach; increased concern for elderly or vulnerable loved ones.
It’s commonly accepted that we as a people are as politically divided as we’ve ever been. Our response to the current pandemic has not lessened that divide. But through all the chaos, the turmoil, and upheaval, what can we agree on? Sometimes when things are bleakest, or most frustrating, that condition causes our values to come into focus.
So what do we value? I’m especially interested in our shared values. What do the divisive responses show about what we value as people, generally? And can we find common ground about those values? I see two values that permeate the conflicting emotions sparked by the pandemic:
1. Health; and
People on different sides of the divided response to the pandemic may feel health or work overly threatened by the response to COVID-19. Or perhaps different people associate a different risk level to health or work with COVID-19 and the response. But I’m hopeful that we can all agree that both health and work are important—that these are things we value. So what can we takeaway from COVID-19, the response to COVID-19, and our values of health and work?
Our current situation will pass. Whether it’s through a vaccine, natural passage of time, or simply living with the threat of a new virus, we will not remain on lockdown. But can we meaningfully examine our recognized values, and use this examination and recognition to live a more fulfilling, thoughtful, and enjoyable life in the future?