FIRST PERSON--This is the first time in my blessedly long life that I have been asked to sacrifice for the greater good of my fellow compatriots. This sacrifice entails staying at home.
In this democracy of the people and by the people, I, for one, have no hesitation to act for the general welfare of other people. You should not, either. We stay at home for each other, out of our shared humanity. Your well-being is intimately linked to my well-being, connected by a nonpartisan, apolitical virus that is sweeping across the globe, infecting, sickening, and killing people living in every type of existing political system.
I stay home to protect the medical workers, the elderly folks in my neighborhood, the immunocompromised people in my life, a family member with cancer, and the frontline workers, like grocery store workers and postal workers, whom I now have the pleasure of greeting so rarely now.
I stay home because no level of government in this country recognized the threat of SARS-CoV-2 soon enough, leading to a lack of preparation on a murderous, unconscionable, and unforgivable scale.
I stay home to give the research scientists and medical doctors time to publish their work in the public domain. My God, now we know that covid-19 is comorbid with stroke in people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. We did not know that three weeks ago.
I stay home because sometimes in a democracy, yes, a democracy, we do sacrifice for the greater good. This is temporary. Staying home and acting with caution when venturing outside by wearing a mask and physically distancing is what we do. These necessary protective behaviors will not be imposed forever. Patience is required.
Staying home is contributing to the general welfare of our city and county. And those of us with the time and means to pressure our elected officials to pass more economic and physical protections for frontline workers, renters, and unsheltered people are obliged to do so. It is another way to fight for the welfare of others. How privileged many of us are! We have homes to make phone calls and write emails from, unlike more than 60,000 people in LA County living in cars, RVs, or tents, or under the sky.
If you are someone who compares with communism or socialism the one time in more than seven decades that we are exhorted to sacrifice for the common good, know this: Public-health officials’ recommendations to stay home and physically distance to break the chain of virus transmission is based on science not politics. Placing yourself in close proximity to many people in crowds based on your political interpretations of public-health directives is privileging ignorance over known protocols for limiting and ending a pandemic. Your shortsighted behavior could swiftly endanger people I love, people you love. Your inability to err on the side of caution and to follow known strategies for stanching a pandemic will lead to further transmission of the virus. Your political beliefs, based in ignorance and false comparisons, will perpetuate the duration of the pandemic. Staying home spares your loved ones from severe illness or death from covid-19. If you cannot think of the general welfare, then think of their specific well-being. The rest of us will benefit.
(Gina K. Thornburg, PhD, is the Executive Director of Coalition for Valley Neighborhoods (https://www.facebook.com/groups/CoalitionforValleyNeighborhoods/), based in Woodland Hills. A housing-, environmental-, and social-justice activist and advocate, she holds a PhD in geography and bachelor’s degrees in journalism and French. She serves as the at-large alternate board member of the Woodland Hills–Warner Center Neighborhood Council. Her published work has appeared in CityWatchLA, The Progressive, the Southern Sierran, Great Plains Research, and the Journal of Rural and Community Development, among others. She may be reached at [email protected].)