The world has changed. For now. And likely, in some ways, for always. There is no right thing to say at this moment. No perfect phrasing, no prose that will settle on everyone's shoulders like a warm embrace. We are going to mess this up - this distanced communing and communicating with each other - because we aren't flawless, graceful creatures at all times, and everyone needs/wants different kinds of connection. We are likely going to say something that doesn't jive with what someone else thinks or believes. We may get testy after being corralled together (or alone) for an indefinite length of time. Mostly, though, I think we are going to help each other, and love each other, and do the best we can. I believe in us.
In a perfect world everyone would be provided for. No one would worry about feeding or clothing themselves and no one would wonder if they could pay their rent, utilities, healthcare, or monthly expenses. But we don't live in a perfect world, and people are concerned about how they will survive. (We've always been concerned, but now things seem much more dire.) People are going to be asking for help. They are going to be offering up what they have or what they do, as a way to provide for themselves. They will be trying to save their business, their livelihood, or attempting to bring in some money to help at this stressful time.
When someone asks for help, or promotes their business online, or shines a light on their accomplishments, or posts their fundraising links on social media, please don't shame them. Don't say "too soon," or assume they have the worst motives. Most folks are going into a time of massive uncertainty surrounding their lives and incomes, and sharing ways that you can support them isn't the same as trying to profit off a pandemic. Some folks won't be as eloquent as you would like. They may make mistakes, or misspeak in their attempt to communicate. Allow people some extra wiggle room. Be patient.
There are those who will try to take advantage, be dishonest, hoard and then price gouge, or outright steal. These people have always been out there (and there is a huge discussion here that is so necessary, about privilege, access to physical/mental health care, housing, and community care, that I don't have the space to even scratch the surface of) and we do our best to be aware of those situations. If someone seems to be taking unfair advantage, or preying on other's fears, then you can report their posts, or perhaps reach out to them if you are able to kindly offer them some help on how to steer their efforts to maintain their income in a more appropriate manner.
Please don't demonize those who are attempting to keep their existing online businesses afloat, or who are now moving their storefront to an online or a more easy, safe, accessible model. I've been seeing this happen on social media in the last few days and it's very disheartening (the wondrous Britton posted a story about this topic on Instagram as well). Please don't shame the people who will begin to post fundraising links, or who start up sites to sell what they make or offer a service they provide, so they can meet their needs. Support who you can, if you wish, or share their links if you feel moved to.
If you feel overwhelmed (and so many of us do) then pace yourself, take time off-line, feed yourself and your family, move your body, breathe. Help yourself stay safe, strong, and at peace, and then you will be able to more greatly help others.
There are so many people sharing helpful information that it can make you feel dizzy trying to keep up. I'll start attaching some of the articles I've had the chance to read in the past few days, that made me feel hopeful, and some of the ways I've been keeping well. Pop in and read them if you choose, when you have time. My brilliant friend Briana Saussy likes to quote Fred Rogers, and I could not agree more at this time:
Look for the helpers
And I would like to add, be one of the helpers. When, and if you can.
I'll say it again...I believe in us. Hang in. Hang on. Reach out. We've got each other. We can do this.
Briana has a free, ongoing, healing and protection ceremony that you can join.
Joanna Powell Colbert, of the Gaian Tarot and the Herbcrafter's Tarot, posted a beautiful love letter about how she is caring for herself and others.
My favourite local studio is offering free, online fitness and yoga classes three times a day via Facebook.
I'll add more links in time here, but I wanted to start you off in few good places...
(All photos on this post are from my recent walk to gather poplar buds - you can read about poplar and its magic here.)