A Plea for Calm, Compassionate Community in a COVID-19 Crisis

I know you’ve seen it too. Those pictures on social media of empty shelves, toilet paper for sale by the roll on the bst, and disparaging comments about people of Asian origin.

I’m in a few Facebook groups that cater to rural folks trying to live more sustainable lifestyles. Yesterday I read a thread where dozens of preppers debated who would be allowed into their personal life-sustaining sanctuary as the world suffers. There was a lot of talk about guns and self-preservation. There was only one comment that all were welcome—a tiny thread of humanity dangling in a dark hole.

Let’s do better

Now, I get it. While I personally abstain from doomsday prepping—I don’t want my family to live in a state of anxiety—the very nature of our lifestyle means we are better “prepared” than most. My freezer is full, my seedlings are planted, and my daughter already does her school at home. Still, I have a lizard-brain urge to run to the store and buy everything that looks like it’s running short. I want to lock our gate and spend my resources buying ammunition and impenetrable fences.

Ya’ll, if I do that I’m part of the problem. See, I’m not particularly scared of coronavirus. I’m fearful of the human nature that I see rearing its ugly head all around me—even though I live in a rural ag community of people whom I respect.

I’m scared of the well-off white Christians I see on Facebook who believe the bible tells them to prepare to shoot anyone who threatens their supply. Maybe my neighbours will panic. It’s likely that those who can afford it will keep buying up toilet paper every time it appears. I’m worried that, for all our technology and knowledge, we are no more sophisticated then a caveman with a club. Even back then don’t you think that humankind knew that pulling together as a tribe was a better way to overcome challenges?

Take action

So please, neighbours and friends, think about dropping off a frozen meal on the doorstep of your acquaintance. Call an elderly person you see in church—the one who doesn’t have family in the pew beside them. Offer to pick up some supplies for a vulnerable friend when you’re at the store. And, for crying out loud, wash your hands and stay home if you’ve been around someone with a fever.

I might be coming off as anti-prepper—I’m aware that I could alienate my audience. But it’s because I have faith in you that I’m writing this post to a rural community of people with skills and assets. I actually deeply believe in being prepared and self-sustaining. I write posts teaching my readers to preserve their produce, make their own toothpaste, use a menstrual cup, and butcher their own meat. But shouldn’t we be doing so with love towards neighbours and a sense of community?

Let’s reflect a positive society

There are a things you can do. It’s empowering, actually, to mobilize in the face of crisis. I realize not everyone has the same opportunity to live as homesteaders. However, almost everyone can take positive steps to improve their sustainability and help the most vulnerable.

If you’re self-isolating work on a practical skill or plant some seedlings. Source necessities as locally as possible—grow as much food as you can. Avoid travelling and find joy in your life at home. Connect deeply with your faith, or explore a belief that gives meaning beyond your life and belongings. Eat well, sleep, and get some exercise. Educate yourself in order to follow recommendations.

Most of us will be fine. That will be particularly true if we step up as a society to be our best.

I will have you, both my immediate and larger community, in mind in the weeks and months to come. I hope you have the meaning of circles of community as well.

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