Column: Demonstrate our commitment to others during the coronavirus pandemic

Lisa Versprille Burkett [Courtesy]

SANDBRIDGE — When the pandemic news began to trickle in, my emotions started to play havoc with my mind, and I feel like I’ve been on a zip line looking for the platform where I can stop, unbuckle and go home.

The ride will not stop, however.

It just keeps changing.

First, it is fast, and then it slows to a halt while I ponder, hanging in midair, taking in the scenery, then trying to get my rope to start moving again. When I start to move down the line, there is a cry from the forest below, but I can’t stop. I cannot help whatever or whoever it is that I perceive is in trouble.

It is frustrating to my Type A personality not to be in control of what happens to me and my health. My adult children are spread out across our country. I can’t huddle them inside my home and protect them from things unseen. I go back and forth between frightened and hopeful, engrossed and put off, hopeful and pessimistic.

All I can do is hang in the air, trying to keep from falling into that same enormous forest myself. I perceive suffering below, and I don’t want to go there. I don’t want anyone I know to go there. I don’t want anyone on earth to go there, but there are humans that are below, and we will not see them for a long time.

I watch and read the news, and I can’t figure out what is going on – about anything. There’s an enormous problem that contributes heavily to my anxiety. I don’t know who or what to trust.

As a journalism student in college, I was taught a certain way to report the news when writing for a newspaper or television script. What I have been seeing on television news has appalled me. It is nothing but opinions.

My professors were constantly red-marking through my opinions when I wrote in college. My job was to deliver the facts, they told me.  

People can make up their own minds about how to feel about what you report. Save your opinions for the editorial page, or for when you become a celebrated author. Trust in your ability to make people understand what happened, not how your writing should make them feel.

Social media changed news writing. Suddenly, everyone and their brother could write and post not only a story but one with absolutely no facts to back up their words. They could spit out “data” without any note of source.

Writing has become more like propaganda speech than “just the facts, ma’am.”  It has eroded my trust in everything journalistic. The journey to understanding has been given an additional burden – we must all become lovers of time-consuming research, looking over multiple sources to arrive at some half-baked conclusion to what really happened.

And speaking of trust, we have all become leery of each other. 

We’ve never trusted politicians or lawyers, but now we don’t trust our pastors and teachers. We don’t trust our grocery store manager or the guy counting us in at the department store.  We don’t trust our universities or even our ability to come together as Americans.

You know who still is full of trust? Our older baby boomer generation that is still with us. Our seniors still trust all the people that work with them in the communities where they live and the families they live with. They trust everyone to do the best they can in keeping them away from this virus.

As hard as some people try, the virus is still getting in and killing our seniors by the thousands across the globe. 

If most people would try and be careful when they are out and about, wouldn’t it be safer for this trusting generation?  

Could we trust science just a bit by wearing a mask?

I cannot see the landing platform from my overhead rope line yet. The losses we have suffered below in the forest are terrible losses, and we grieve. 

But there is room on the platform for all of us left if we wear our masks and wash our hands like our life depends on it. If we demonstrate that we can distance ourselves socially for a while longer.

That is something that I must believe in and trust will happen.

The author works in the senior living industry and lives in Sandbridge.

© 2020 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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