As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the world, we are reminded daily that North Dakota is not immune from the health concerns and societal repercussions of the virus. But we also are witnessing events daily that remind us that we, truly, are all in this together.
The number of positive COVID-19 cases grows daily in our state. Schools remain closed and students are taking lessons online. Many businesses are closed or are open on a limited basis. Residents are strongly encouraged to stay home unless it’s absolutely necessary to venture out in public for medical issues, shopping for essentials, or to go to work. Proper personal hygiene and social distancing can be powerful weapons against this disease, and I urge everyone to follow the recommendations of healthcare experts. Each of us must do our part.
The social and economic destruction left in the wake of this pandemic will no doubt change our world, our country, our state, and our city. Yes, life will return to normal at some point, but no one can be sure what that new normal will look like. Yet, we are encouraged by the displays of kindness we see every day in Minot.
We see it on a large organizational level: Multiple entities across our community have come together to provide information, resources, and assistance to those in need. Restaurants have joined forces with non-profit groups and other private businesses to bring food to needy families. There are countless other acts of genuine goodness happening in our community every day by organizations doing it for one reason: Because it’s the right thing to do. We will not forget these good deeds.
We see it on a personal level: Residents shopping for elderly neighbors who may be more susceptible to the effects of coronavirus. Family and friends checking on each other to make sure everyone is doing OK - physically and mentally. Teachers and other school personnel driving through the neighborhoods surrounding their schools to remind parents and students that the school staff is still thinking about them as buildings are closed and students are learning from home. Watching those school parades, I’m not sure who enjoyed it more – the students and parents or the teachers and staff members. Those smiles are etched into our memories.
There’s perhaps never been a more important time to realize how much our society is interconnected and dependent upon each other. Yes, we are connected in multiple ways through technology, which has proven to be an effective alternative to face-to-face interaction as we continue to practice good social distancing. With help and guidance from information technology staffs around the state, many employees are working from home, and schools have begun distance learning through technology.
These methods can be effective, and there’s no doubt some technical changes will lead to better and more efficient business, education, and healthcare models in the future. But there’s simply no replacement for good, old-fashioned human connection and interaction – even if it’s from a distance at the moment.
When this pandemic is over, we should never again take some simple aspects of life for granted. Children enjoying a playground at the park. Going out to a movie, a play, a sporting event, a concert, or to have lunch with friends. A t-ball game. Teachers in front of a room full of smiling students. Churches full of worshippers. We’ll never look at these things the same again, and not being able to enjoy these staples of our lives should leave us with a stronger appreciation for them.
As this pandemic continues – and when it is over – we must never forget the commitment, dedication, and sacrifice of thousands of workers who play vital roles in our society. This crisis has again proven that the success of our society rests with each and every one of us; everyone plays an important role.
Will we ever look the same at our doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers, and first responders? Will we ever again question the importance of our teachers? Will we remember the everyday heroics performed by farmers, ranchers, postal workers, delivery drivers, pharmacy employees, truckers, grocery store workers, factory workers, utility workers, bank employees, custodians, military personnel, civil service workers, restaurant employees, small business owners, IT staffs, journalists, public works employees, non-profit employees and volunteers, daycare providers, energy sector employees, retail workers, construction workers, and every other profession that makes up the fabric of our society.
Times of crisis reveal true character, and I believe the true character of our community is on display right now. It’s encouraging and heart-warming. Perhaps the only thing spreading faster than COVID-19 is kindness and a true love of community.