What’s giving you hope during the COVID–19 pandemic?
Answering this question is easy, I realized as it was presented.
Immediately, this one word came to mind.
One word, to describe the brightest beacon of hope during recent years’ rampant COVID–19 (coronavirus disease 2019) variant assault, which continues today but has been tempered: first by way of abstinence from social life, and now through increasing vaccination rates.
ONE WORD – PROGRESS
In some ways, unfortunately, the defining term of such an important concept for the state of humanity is tainted by politics and loses some of its intended, positive connotation. The result of such loss is a curbing of the goal, or intent that is forward momentum and avoidance of stagnancy.
At the same time, not all forms of progress have always been necessary, and some so-called progress has been disastrous. In many cases, progress has primarily served the construct to which most people don’t have sufficient access (the economy). However, throughout the time of COVID-19, progress has occurred in beneficial ways that many people may never have seen if not for the disruptive virulence.
Progress occurs in different forms and is regarded differently by people from numerous lifestyles and expectation. In the political sphere particularly, progress is a loaded term that sparks interest or ire and is used as a touchstone of communication among political parties and interest groups. But at its root and in the interest of hope, progress is the general idea of advancement toward a better, more complete, or more modern state—bringing closer to humanity a cohesive society that works for everyone . . . positive development toward utopic (aiming for better for all, and achieving that) society.
Signs of New Beginnings at Work
One by one, coworkers began to call out from work after coming down with what was presumed to be seasonal flu at the start of January 2020. I was one and, having just started as a new employee a few months prior and only just completed the initial three-month probationary period, was dismayed to have to leave my shift early and on top of that call out for the next two days.
Sudden high fever with chills and aches took over my body and mind. My throat went from taken-for-granted to sandpaper on fire and my lungs became like cinder blocks filled with concrete. This all occurred withing a 5-minute times span. I reported my sudden physical downfall to my supervisor, delayed my departure for about an hour due to guilt and concern over initial impressions but ultimately succumbed and headed for home. During the drive, I was thankful that home was only about five or ten minutes away.
Finally, home and dreading the hours ahead of what was to be an extreme illness, I struggled to climb the stairs to my comfortable place of abode. By the time I made it to the top of the stairs and gained entry to my living space, I was so short of breath that all I could do was clamor for the couch and collapse, then hope for the best as I struggled to breathe. I made it through the night with NyQuil and in the morning was thankful for my husband’s presence and willingness to drive me to the emergency clinic.
After just a couple days on the couch keeping medications in my body to assist my breathing functions and otherwise endure the cycle of disease, I was back on the job. For the first time in my near middle-aged life, I had been prescribed steroids and an albuterol inhaler along with the typical antibiotic regimen and cough and nasal treatments. Meanwhile:
For a short time, the workplace went about its business as usual until it (and the public at large) became aware of the new and unusually deadly disease-causing viral infection we all know so well today as COVID–19.
By then, I had mostly recovered after taking only two days off and continuing with medications as directed. On the job, months of weakness and continued use of abluterol passed, some days with a cane and others with my body too swollen to move comfortably. But my life (as well as the lives of all others working for our employer, many falling ill) was made simpler within a month of my return to work, when we were all sent home to work after our communities went into quarantine to avoid contribution to the spread of COVID–19 (progress).
However, it took a long time to be free of lingering effects of COVID and consider myself recovered and, only now—two years later—feeling almost normal again and unsure about complete recovery . . . but optimistic. Part of the reason I am optimistic is due to the significant shift by companies during this time to a work-from-home dynamic wherever possible.
Two Faces of Progress
The job may have lasted, enduring itself by way of adaptability of the people working within, but ultimately Google took it from us all by being available to answer calls and serve (not in the same way) basic needs in a progressive, artificial way that in the mind of business requires no real people at all. Same money in, less money out.
Innovation can hardly be stopped and optimism around it creates the space where technology is way ahead of us, as a whole. This humbling reality that came to light during that time frame where measures were taken against the spread of COVID-19. It was illuminating: that it was so easy for many of us to transition. Simply, work from home.
Onsite measures were taken, masks worn, disinfectants at every corner; but, the risk was too high and we all went home and did exactly the same job.
So many people could have already been working from home already, relieved of long commutes that stole hours from days. But, nothing had pushed most companies into making this form of progress a reality. Instead, a major prompt was required—a deadly one, it turned out.
Previously, there had apparently been little interest in a focus on benefits for the workforces that empower the companies. Instead we were living in an environment where established pensions and other benefits were literally belittled and the ability to forget loyalty and cut people loose with robotics and artificial intelligence only increased (as it still does). The economy grew while quality of life for most people (the power behind the economy) stagnated and declined.
The same dynamic essentially continues today, but we have gained some edge. We learned a little something about ourselves and about the system in which we live. In a disastrous climate we made progress when, during an unforeseen crisis, we came together as a public interested in itself and we adapted to the struggle by working together . . . differently.
Prompted by #writehopenow. <Check it out.