In Each Other’s Shoes: Notes From a Crisis

April 28, 2020 Updated: April 28, 2020

As a pandemic continues across the world and social distancing has become the status quo, the motto has become, “We’re all in this together.” We sure are.

There are faint signs of a possible light at the end of the tunnel. Increasingly, focus will be given to how we’ll manage leaving this strange cocoon we’ve constructed and enter what will undoubtedly be a new normal.

Presently, we are unified—working together on one goal—doing everything we possibly can to eliminate a so-called “invisible enemy.” We are sacrificing and enduring in the name of protecting the most vulnerable among us. We are helping each other along the way as we face uncertainty and take each single day one at a time.

Our current existence stands in stark contrast to what has been sold to us as truth—that we were divided, in competition against one another, in judgment of one another on the basis of irrelevant superficialities. That has been proven false beyond a shadow of a doubt. Did we ever really believe that?

When push came to shove, we readily did what we had to do to save, yes, ourselves, but also each other and especially those most at risk. Instead of trying to keep up with the Joneses, we’ve wholeheartedly rooted for them.

We’ve applauded real heroes such as medical personnel, delivery workers, and grocery store employees, who have bravely faced their duties and sacrificed selflessly when called to action. We’ve seen generous business owners step up to offer resources big and small. We’ve seen members of our own communities, young and old, put their unique talents to work to offer up what they could. We’ve separated ourselves from one another, washed our hands, and prayed.

This is a scary and challenging time. Everyone’s individual experience in this crisis is, of course, unique to them. It’s harder for some than others.

Overall, though, we’d be remiss to let this moment pass without noticing the innate goodness that is being displayed on a wide scale throughout society. It’s worth pausing and noticing. You can tell a lot about people by how they act in the face of tragedy.

I believe our overall sense of empathy and compassion has broadened. In an unprecedented way, we can understand what it feels like to be in each other’s shoes. At night, when our heads hit the pillow, we understand—at least to some degree—the anxiety, fear, weight of responsibility, concern for family, friends, and our fellow man that everyone else is also grappling with. 

What’s more, we’re stronger than we may have believed. As our comforts gave way to worry, we have stepped up. Neighbors have helped neighbors, families have conserved resources, and leaders have made bold decisions.

We’ve all distanced ourselves, but in many ways we’ve never been closer. Every mom and dad, son and daughter, brother and sister, grandchild and grandparent is doing their part, sacrificing where needed, tolerating discomfort, playing their role, and saving us all.

Are there aspects of this historical moment that should be criticized and learned from? Of course. That’s for another sort of article.

As individuals, I hope that when this crisis abates, when we walk out of the tunnel and into the light, we find ourselves more capable of discerning and dispensing the truth, seeing the good in one another, embodying kindness and compassion, and upholding our duties to our families, our communities, and our society.

Follow Barbara on Twitter: @barbaradanza