Visiting Seattle was a treat if only for three days. Where I currently reside is a smaller city, about 50,000 residents, but it’s not just the population size that differs from Seattle. The attitude of the people in smaller places should scream we need to help each other, we can do better by cooperating and caring.
Seattle and Western Washington generally were early hotbeds for Covid-19. When the coronavirus first reached the American shore, it was as if Seattle was its preplanned destination. There was uncertainty but not broad understanding, it would come later. As it coalesced across America from both the East and West concerns and understanding amplified. New York rapidly rose to nearly 30,000 deaths, hospitals and morgues swamped, calls for protective gear and ventilators echoed from New York and state governors. Washington, DC emphasized it was a state problem, not a federal concern and that was the only hand washing being done in our Capitol. Our federal elected leaders reacted inadequately at best.
The buildings reaching to the heavens still stand tall even on an overcast somewhat dreary day over looking Puget Sound. Their occupants, many remain humbled by this invisible eviction notice as it drains their life blood, the occupants of the many cubicles. Many people remain resilient through this temporary knock down. Those who daily filled these concrete towers and meandered the public corridors lined by these partially vacant giants struggle. Workers, both well rewarded and less so, seek to continue their daily journeys, some work remotely from their homes. Others may wander out each day, with face masks and caution hoping for a return to a better day, a safer day.
While I admire the strength demonstrated by not surrendering yet sadness occupies much of my inner being. Large cities create a sense of anonymity but not fear. Some may feel lonely but never alone. The sense of needing to help, to do our part to create again what was, in a better way, permeates many in these metropolitan areas. Small towns and rural places differ by creating an enlarged sense of independence. Whereas large cities create a different view of independence. Perhaps we confuse certain concepts based on the geography we occupy. Sometimes the attitudes of large city dwellers make us appear indifferent or even cold, which we are on occasion. The ability to work alone, knowing how to do certain things may create a sense of independence in smaller cities and towns. Independence is a term we each define within ourselves. Smaller places may view independence and freedom as synonymous terms, these are different. Independence is how we view ourselves while freedom is what we provide to others.
Our current times challenge us to be better and seek less. Parts of our country that seemed to be untouched by this invisible pandemic originally evidenced little change. These areas knew few people, friends or relatives, who contracted Covid-19 or worse died. Some people asserted that large, populous infected areas seemed to have allowed this spread of their own volition. This mindset in the less impacted areas allowed perhaps even encouraged people to place blame rather than seek containment. Some leaders were shameful with the use of derogatory names and ethnic prejudice. Blame being placed allows us to absolve ourselves of responsibility at least in our minds. Larger cities and as more areas witnessed the spread, the dying, left no time for blame but rather to focus on fixing it, stopping the spread. More smaller cities and areas would succumb due to their indifference and perhaps disbelief. Now we all should be more equal, more concerned in wanting to overcome it. Humanity kicks in when we realize we are here together. Large cities may create more of a sense of this interdependence.
Seattle offered more humanity. People doing the things that science and medicine have been advocating. Perhaps I am prejudiced because most of my life I resided in a large city. Not knowing neighbors personally is often a criticism of our sprawling cities and suburbs. If I know my neighbors and towns people by their first name but in the face of this pandemic I am actually ignoring them, is that better? The bigness creates the recognition we are all just a part, a small piece. As in the expression “a house of cards” if one person, one card, gets sick then the sickness continues on to the next, and next, etc. until the house collapses. Visiting Seattle brought sadness at the loss of the aliveness as we knew it, but eye opening to the meaning of living. Together, helping each other, not seeing one self as some isolated person in this sea of people but rather one cog on the wheel. When the wheel is turning and each cog works in unison turning smoothly then we come together and remain resolute and stronger. This giant pot of diverse people in large and small places that we call America must recognize that together we are more than just a cog on this sphere we call earth spinning through the Milky Way. We must keep turning together. As recognition of our need to cooperate, to help each other reaches across this planet around the world, this pandemic will dissipate and a better day will emerge. Not just a return to what was but an effort may emerge directing us to go to where we should have been all along our journey. We must travel this journey together or the imaginary lines we draw between us will lock us into selfish isolation.