We all suffered in 2020. No one was immune. A tiny virus invaded the world and attacked everyone indiscriminately. The COVID-19 virus was humanity’s common enemy, and that simple fact brought us together.
But let’s not kid ourselves — we didn’t suffer equally, not by a long shot.
In the United States, the virus has killed more than 330,000 people. Think of the pain felt by the families, friends and all of the people close to those who died.
Tens of millions lost their jobs, or their businesses, or their livelihoods. Think of the collateral human pain from that economic devastation.
Millions of elderly people caught the virus of isolation and despair. How does one measure the pain of chronic loneliness? People of all ages experienced the very real pain of depression. Front line responders were drained and overworked. The list goes on.
Compared to those deep pains, it’s almost embarrassing to even mention the ordinary pains many of us felt: The shocking upending of our lives; the inability to do so many of the things that gave us social and spiritual sustenance; the inability to hug and commune with those we love. For those of us in this camp, our biggest challenge was to look for hidden blessings and silver linings. What a luxury.
In my attempt to bring people together, I have a tendency to overuse the word “we,” as if we are all in the same boat. But God knows we’re not. We may have been in the same storm this pandemic year, but each of us in our own boats. There is no real “we” in 2020 — there is just you and me and him and her and every individual on the planet, suffering in their own way, coping in their own way.
We may have been in the same storm this pandemic year, but each of us in our own boats.
In that sense, the tiny virus that brought us together by being our common enemy also reaffirms our individuality. The same deadly virus came after all of us– but we each felt it differently.
There is, however, a “we” that still applies. While we each experienced this bewildering pandemic differently, we each can have compassion and empathy for those who felt more pain than we did.
We may not be them, but we can feel them. That awareness alone can bring us together.