Today’s MOZEN: Trying Times

F LoBuono

These are the times that try men’s souls* . . .

Thomas Paine wrote those seminal words (and, many others equally as powerful) in December of 1776 for his pamphlet, The Crisis. They were of a political nature meant to rally support for which was then a failing American Revolution. Victories for the rebellious Colonies against the English Crown were virtually non-existent and morale was flagging, badly.

Paine’s words proved both inspirational and effective. The Colonies did rally and, after further great sacrifice, eventually won their independence. And, America was born.

Well, America faces another great crisis — arguably the greatest since WWII. It certainly is the most challenging I’ve seen in my nearly 65 years.

What we’ve got here is a Global Pandemic.

COVID — 19, more popularly known as the Corona Virus, has been ravaging our Country and the world. China and Italy were brought to their knees. My area, NYC and it’s vicinity, have been particularly hard hit by this pernicious villain.

And, it has changed our daily lives in ways that I have never experienced. In my opinion, even 911 didn’t have the global, daily, devastating impact that this virus has had.

In addition to its deadly nature (10Xs greater than influenza), COVID-19 will have even farther reaching repercussions beyond the immediate death toll, particularly economically. Because the virus is so contagious and can spread so rapidly, Social Distancing has become critical. That means not only banning major events, sports, and all large crowds but some of our personal interactions, as well. This means friends and some family.

In addition to the personal sacrifices, this of course, can have a disastrous trickle down effect on so many businesses, and therefore, employees, i.e. people and families.

Large concerts are gone and so are the jobs that go with supporting those events. The same goes for sports. No NCAA Final Four. No basketball or hockey — college or pro. No professional or college baseball, etc., etc. So, this goes FAR beyond the lost entertainment value. It will put tens of thousands of people out of work — and not just the stars but musicians, technicians, roadies, vendors, truck drivers, coaches, secretaries, ticket-takers, printers, security, maintenance, food purveyors, and, many, many more.

And, these are the BIG guys. Smaller, local businesses will suffer even more. Village shops, restaurants, and bars have been severely limited in terms of operations offering only take-out or delivery service. Again, this means not only a huge loss at the top (the owners) but all the staffs who support those businesses, as well. The result will be that those places already suffering in a changing economy are doomed. They will not return when this over. People will lose more than just their lively-hoods, they will lose their dreams, too.

Even if we don’t get infected, it is safe to say that NO ONE will remain unaffected.

On a personal level, I have been greatly affected. First, the building that I have worked in for nearly 20 years, the CBS Broadcast Center, was made off-limits after a number of people were diagnosed with the virus. Therefore, I lost a great deal of work and have only been able to return on a part-time basis by using my home/personal computer. And, as a single man, I count on the vibrant art, music, and bar/restaurant scene in my village of Nyack, NY to provide the bulk of my social life. Despite often wishing that my retirement would come more quickly, I also find myself missing the camaraderie of my co-workers. AND, I’m an ethnic Italian — I love physical contact with people, especially the ones that I love (or, like). But, this type of contact MUST be avoided at this time.

So, it’s more than inconvenience.

Desperate people can totally lose faith and cause themselves even more harm. We will lose direct contact with the ones we love the most. I have not personally seen my 96 year-old mother, Stella, in weeks for fear of a possible transition of the virus. And, old vices can return. I think everyone experiences over-eating when they have too much time on their hands. But, for a hyper person like myself that can often mean a lot more bourbon and smoke. A lot more.

This is where Strength of Character becomes so important — for our own good, as well as that of others. We HAVE to play by the rules. Observe the safety protocols of no personal contact, maintain safe distances, don’t congregate in large numbers, cover coughs and sneezes, sanitize regularly. And, on a very personal level maintain discipline. Use the time profitably. Catch-up with paperwork and organization. Exercise. Walk outside (yes, you can by yourself and maintaining distance from others). Enjoy the return of the birds. Gather Spring flowers. Read. Cook good, fresh, healthy meals. Meditate. Clean your house. Make your bed. Till your soil. Plant your garden. Write. Watch great movies. Binge watch “South Park”. Be good to yourself.

But, don’t be greedy!

Take your share, but leave enough for others. Traumatic events like this one bring out both the best and worst in people. Always strive to show your best by sharing with your brothers and sisters. I believe how we behave during this time of fear and uncertainty will define this generation. Think about that: how will YOU be remembered by history?

And, let’s use it as an epiphany that creates empathy. If we don’t care for our environment, catastrophic events like this one will become so frequent that they will eventually destroy us. Also, remember there are places like Syria and Lebanon where the people suffer degradation far worse than the challenge we currently face. Let’s move forward from this with a renewed commitment to make the world a better place for ALL creatures.

Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods . . .

Thomas Paine

Footnote: In a bit of irony, Thomas Paine lived for a long period of his life in New Rochelle, NY — the epicenter for the virus outbreak in NY.

*https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/175410-these-are-the-times-that-try-men-s-souls-the-summer

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