Published March 31, 2020, by Michele Brown
If solidarity could kill a virus, COVID-19 would be fading fast.
We may be in a time of social isolation, but it is acts of social solidarity that are our deepest social connections right now.
Social solidarity goes beyond feelings like kindness, compassion, and empathy. It’s about embracing the common good: seeing the importance of each individual while recognizing the deep webs of mutual support and responsibility.
These are times of incomprehensible randomness: Who will get ill? Who will die? Who will get laid off? There’s little rhyme or reason and precious little to predict when and where it will end. The novel coronavirus has upended routines, killed jobs, closed schools. Uncertainty stares at us from multiple directions.
We may not be able to literally offer the healing power of physical touch, but we can practice social solidarity and touch thousands through our actions when we hunker down and help out.
Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief epidemiologist, said last week that Alaska has time to contain COVID-19. But she warned in terms of life and death that we need to seize the time. It will require tenuous solidarity to endure this, possibly for months.
We do it for the common good because, when we do, we deny transmission to COVID-19, sever its communications, cut its bridges and slow it down. In doing so we protect ourselves and our neighbors. With fewer opportunities, the virus afflicts fewer people; it can’t strike those it can’t reach. That keeps our health system from being overwhelmed and lessens the risk to our hard-pressed health-care providers. To hunker down is to look out for them.
We also improve the odds for Anchorage police, EMTs, firefighters, grocery workers and all the other people who cannot shelter in place, because we all depend on them to maintain a functioning society even in a pandemic. They can’t do their vital work remotely. To hunker down is to look out for them too.
Those who are afflicted by the illness and those who care for them or suffer grief are obviously the face of this pandemic, and we all step up to support them as best as we can.
The virus claims other victims too: those who have lost their livelihoods and anguish over staying housed, fed, maintaining health insurance, and paying their bills. Just as the virus could hit any of us, so could this economic gut-punch.
We may look up to our celebrities, but after you shelter in place, you quickly realize it’s your everyday web of interdependence and interconnection you miss most — your favorite restaurant, watering hole, hairdresser, barista, etc.
These folks are bearing the economic brunt of keeping the rest of us safe. And we act in social solidarity when we support them.
The ANCHORAGE CARES COVID-19 Response Fund had raised more than $125,000 in little more than a week. ANCHORAGE CARES is United Way’s fund to funnel swift help to Anchorage families who have lost jobs, health insurance, childcare or had to shut down their businesses and are scrambling to cover groceries, rent, and other bills. Every dime collected is going, right now, to meet the needs of people here in Anchorage.
The need is clear from the rising calls to 2-1-1 seeking help. Lutheran Social Services of Alaska, one of the first recipients of money from ANCHORAGE CARES, is meeting people by appointment to maintain social distance. LSSA has helped people laid off from food service, retail, substitute teaching, and hairdressing businesses to maintain their housing. Funds have also gone to the Food Bank of Alaska and the Children’s Lunchbox to provide more food in the face of exponentially expanding need.
We can take heart that there’s something spreading faster than the virus – the power of solidarity. For proof, check out the ANCHORAGE CARES real-time thermometer of donations here. You can help raise the temperature here. The spread of social solidarity is something we can all share! Let’s hunker down and help out.
ANCHORAGE CARES COVID-19 Response Fund