Superheroes and the Everyday Heroism of… Waiting

By Gwyn Lurie   |   March 26, 2020

This week we have increased our distribution to 15,000 papers. In the spirit of supporting this challenging time of necessary social distancing, we are pleased to announce that we will be delivering to homes in Montecito, Summerland, and many parts of Santa Barbara.

A special thanks to VILLAGE PROPERTIES for making possible this week’s MONTECITO JOURNAL HOME DELIVERY! These little things make a huge difference in a time like this and Village Properties helped make it happen.

I’m no Pollyanna, though it is my nature to look for hope in challenging moments – and this pandemic certainly meets the criteria. Undoubtedly, this crisis is testing us. But there’s no question that amidst the fights over hand sanitizer and toilet paper, plentiful, also, are the instances of heroism playing out all around us.

Scientists, doctors, nurses, local officials, educators, paramedics, law enforcement officers, restaurant owners, grocery store clerks, postal workers, mechanics, delivery people, construction workers, community leaders, non-profits, other essential service-workers and individual community members including kids and millennials – are stepping up to make sure our community is cared for and will emerge from this crisis intact. (See this week’s reporting by Mitchell Kriegman, Kelly Mahan Herrick, and Nick Schou on the important work being done by some of these local heroes.)

Around the country we’re seeing an incredible influx of nurses coming out of retirement and, along with other nurses, working more hours than they’ve ever worked before. Doctors are bravely entering hospitals and improvised healthcare facilities, ready to care for patients regardless of dwindling supplies – even for themselves.

Let Us Not Confuse Superhero with Superhuman

These incredible 2nd responders, who have now become our 1st responders, are running a perilous marathon to save lives. But let us not confuse superheroes with superhumans.

Like us, our heroes have lives and families to protect and they have feelings and fears and anxieties. But unlike us, they don’t have the luxury of showing that they’re scared when they walk into a room to help another human being who has tested positive for a highly contagious virus. They don’t let us see that they’re panicked as they await the protective equipment needed to spare themselves and their families the same fate. It’s not lost upon them, I suspect, that Dr. Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who sent out the original Covid-19 warning to the world, is no longer with us.

Then there is the other kind of heroism, the kind that is being demanded of each of us. MJ writer Mitchell Kriegman calls it “social solidarity.” Meaning, an active commitment to the common good – the kind of thing needed in times like this, where we place the greater good of the larger community above our own immediate needs and desires. And it will require a tenacious social solidarity from all of us to endure these months ahead.

Many are already seeking out new forms of human interaction. But for most of us, this crisis calls for – a kind of individual heroism that demands we separate from our familiar social fabric and just… wait. And it’s not easy.

I wonder if there will be a lasting shift in consciousness when this is over and we all go back about our busy schedules – if there might be a shift in the way we view the world?

At the moment we’re dealing with a virus that does not discriminate. It makes no racial, gender, political, or socioeconomic distinction between its victims. Nothing, in my lifetime, has better magnified the ways in which we are all more alike than different, and the inevitability of our human interdependence.

From a national perspective, there may or may not be cavalry coming. But once again, the 805 community has banded together. We’re donating gloves and masks if we have them. We’re paying our housekeepers even if she or he can’t work, if we can. We’re social distancing. We’re staying home. And we’re waiting.

…The Less Togetherness we are Allowed, the More we Crave.

I suppose it’s ironic that the less togetherness we’re allowed, the more we crave. But I’ve noticed that as people surrender to this temporary reality, they are finding incredible ways to share their spirit and creativity in order to lift themselves and others. People in Italy and Spain are singing to each other from their balconies. The internet is packed with exercise classes, art classes, music, comedy, and endless ways for us to continue to connect. For all of the complaining I’ve done about my “screenagers” and the amount of time they spend staring at a rechargeable rectangle, at this moment I’m so, so grateful for the connectivity and access the internet can provide. (I suspect I will regret these words.)

Presently I’m at home working and my colleagues are at their homes working, to continue to keep our community well informed. My three dogs haven’t noticed that anything has changed at all. (Or maybe they’re annoyed that they no longer have the house to themselves during the day.) My eldest daughter is in her room, playing her guitar and singing in between complaining about being bored. My other daughter is complaining about being bored, in between dyeing my husband’s hair various shades of blue and purple. She claims the color is only semi-permanent. Hopefully so is this quarantine.


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