Catch each other during this fall

How we can use the quarantine to reflect on necessary social changes

Let’s just say it — this month has been nothing if not stressful. Instead of enjoying the pause on the rain and upcoming spring break we’ve all been hunkered down, forced to stay home, some are working instead of taking care of family or trying to balance our budgets while business comes to a halt.

I’ve been busy working away from the office at home. Which has felt incredibly isolating but also frantically busy? Phone calls, emails, Google messages, plans, interviews, breaking news, social media, calling doctors, calling families, making sure our bills are somehow paid … when does the resting portion of quarantine begin?

I’m sure everyone is feeling the strain. Our Renton friends are doing their best as a community to support each other, from coffee shop owners giving discounts to our medical first responders, food banks working to feed low-income students and neighbors shopping for local seniors who don’t want to tread in a grocery store.

On Monday I took an actual lunch break, away from my laptop, to sit on my patio and I thought about how quickly everything turned on its head. The local kids were running around since there is no school, more of my neighbors were home either staying away from work or working from home. My husband said his commute to Seattle took only 30 minutes, half the time it usually does on a Monday.

I’m not sure how many of my readers know about Tarot readings. But I have dabbled in some decks for a while and I can’t help but think about one card, The Tower. The Tower card is a major player in the Tarot, which tells a story about man on a journey to self-fulfillment (a journey all of us are on). The Tower shows an image of a large castle spire being struck by lightning. The tower is crumbling, and since it was built on a cliff it is falling into an abyss. People are falling from the windows while a giant crown is hit by a second bolt of lightning. The card is meant to represent moments in life that shake our foundation to the core, changing almost every aspect of our life.

“When The Tower falls, it is a bewildering experience, but it is one all individuals and civilizations experience. The main idea here is impermanence. Nothing lasts forever – not one ruling party, not beauty, not a sunny day and not a bad mood. When The Tower is destroyed, whether by (wo)man or a natural force, it is scary, but it is also liberating. It is a chance for the world or the individual to revise, to start over again, to readdress what may have been glossed over in the first run. It would be wrong to take the tower’s destruction as an act of war and, once landed, to seek revenge. This is because it is the heavens that destroyed the tower: the tower was destroyed specifically for the purpose of teaching you about yourself, of humbling you, of saving you from the danger that can come from being too prideful and complacent, too used to luxury,” an essay from states.

Maybe that’s what the Universe, or God if you believe, is doing right now. Maybe we are being shaken to our core. Maybe we are being told it’s time to rest and slow down. We don’t like it, in fact, we hate it and are not prepared for it, but maybe it’s what we have to do. That’s all I can think of while the stress of everything keeps piling on. The Universe said, “take a time out and come back when you are more responsible.”

It’s time as a community, a county, a state and a nation to regroup, lend a helping hand and come back ready to make sure we never catch ourselves this off-guard again. We need to elect leaders who put social nets in place to catch our lower and middle-class workers before a crisis hits. We need to make sure we are voting for measures that support social programs and education. We need to stop thinking about the “I” in the country and start thinking as a “we.” How can “we” be supported? How can “we” make sure everyone is getting a helping hand. How can “we” make sure everyone has a place to live, the ability to see a doctor, the ability to raise their families safely during times of national hardship.

We can do this by voting not by party lines but by authenticity of character. We can do this by chipping in to help public education, local nonprofits and charities. We can do this by knocking on your neighbor’s door and checking in on them.

We have been rocked to our core, and it’s nowhere near over. We are seeing where our economy’s biggest weaknesses are, leaving millions of us wondering how we are going to make it next month financially. We are seeing how leadership, who is too focused on power and control, failed to protect our most vulnerable. We are seeing many people being left stranded, and how a lack of common education has left many uninformed on what is really happening.

So take this forced time out and reevaluate how you wish to see our state and country work. What new policies could benefit us all, not just you? How can we make sure the next generation faces its crises with more tools than we had. Then check-in with your neighbors, we need each other right now.