On Being a Good Neighbor in 2022

On Being a Good Neighbor in 2022

The Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus is racing across the world as I write this. While both vaccinated and unvaccinated people have caught the virus, nearly everyone hospitalized due to the infection didn't get the vaccine. Over 800,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19. Let that sink in. 800,000. That’s more than the number of people who died in the 1918 Flu Pandemic (often called the "Spanish Flu") and more than the number of American soldiers who died in the Civil War and WWII combined. Globally, we’ve lost over 5 million people to COVID-19. Every one of these people had family and friends who were impacted by their loss. Every one of these people had contributions to make to their community. The simple truth is that our actions - or our failure to act - affect ourselves, our families, and our neighbors. We should want to be healthy to help keep our family and neighbors healthy. 

Our communities are healthier when we have positive civic engagement. Volunteer for organizations you support. Donate some money to them if you’re fortunate enough to have a little extra to give. Run for local office or sit on boards if you have available time. We can help raise each other. If all of your time and treasure go to supporting yourself and possibly a family, be proud of yourself. You're making a positive impact on the world by finding a way to take care of yourself. Adulting is not easy, especially right now.

Let’s be kind to each other and the children in our communities. These kids - my heart goes out to them. Adults have failed them by creating an ugly public discourse around community health. Adults in their communities have created scenes in stores, on airplanes, outside their schools, and in some cases have tried to pass legislation to interfere with their doctor-patient relationship. I have the absolute privilege of knowing many young adults and I’m optimistic that our world will be a better place once they’re finally in a position to lead. They get it, and they don’t have time for a lot of the absurdity they've seen in the past few years.

The world just lost Desmond Tutu, and I’ve been reflecting on his life as an inspiration. The Anglican Archbishop spent his life in South Africa and was influential in the organized opposition to apartheid. He was a fierce opponent of that racist, oppressive system yet was by all accounts a man who never lost his sense of humor or the ability to find joy in life. His statement, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good that overwhelm the world,” is my inspiration for 2022.

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