Updated: Mar 26, 2020
So, I’m in the grocery store in what feels like 1942. I’m expecting to hear the Andrew Sisters’ singing “Under the Apple Tree”, piped in over the sound system.
Old wartime movies were some of my favorites.
It was that feeling of hardship bringing the nation together that always pulled me in. Oddly enough, then, in the absolute worst of times, food was still on the shelves as the whistle of falling bombs descended like rain, devastated the city of London.
Smartly, rationing was enforced. Partly to assure that everyone got at least a little something. --just enough to subsist. Yet not enough to leave one’s fellow man in the state of starvation and panic.
The imposed sense of equality was also the sane government’s way of reinforcing the fact that everyone, democratically, was equal. That all were, in these “worst of times”, in it, together all bound by the same shared experience.
Its emboldening effect gave folks a renewed courage and a quiet but potent sense of common faith in humanity.
Yet when I went to get a roll of toilet paper the shelves were bare...Really?
One psychiatrist said it had something to do with a fear of that which we cannot control. I can only assume it’s a metaphor since I’ve not run into a single person who has chronic diarrhea in the past four years.
Be that as it may, when we ‘monkey-see-monkey-do,’ American’s see rows of empty shelves, we panic. If there’s a demand for something we suddenly can’t have, we knee jerk…we want…no, NEED it too.
Forgive me if I’m incorrect here, but nowhere has it ever been said that man needs toilet paper to live. Bread? Yes…Water? Yes. But a clean ass? Um not so much. I mean you can't replace water but a half wit could figure out an alternative to toilet paper.
When we hoard, what we’re really saying is that we don’t trust our fellow man. Worse…not even our very own neighbors in our very own communities. The federal government? Ok, that I get…but we’re talking about our friends, our local service providers…people we see daily on our own streets sharing the same small plot of the planet we choose to call home. These, the folks who directly affect the daily quality of our lives are all ‘suspect’ too? We’re so paranoid that we don’t trust them to take a pack of toilet paper and leave some for others? Guess not. Sigh.
This level of self-absorption (pun intended) saddens me and just shows that on top of the virus, something even greater is at hand. We’ve lost our basic core faith in humanity at a time when things are just starting to get tough. We’re groaning because we can’t eat out. That we can’t go to the movies. Seriously?
Well, what do you think it felt like in 1944 with bombs bursting in air and Hitler was burning millions of people alive…when there was no Netflix, no Gmail and even no phone—let alone a portable one? And we’re having tantrums in the middle of the cereal section opposite an entire wall of coffee that in 1944 would have seemed like a bloody miracle? Angry? Angry at whom? Certainly not the nice guy who delivers our mail or fixes our car or teaches our kids. Yet we act worse than the most persecuted refugee in a third-world country.
In the only place once touted as “home of the brave and land of the free,” it seems that freedom is only breeding undeserved and cowardly distrust of the innocent.
Sure, we’re all sick of Washington’s hate/blame chatter that continues to divide. However, that has nothing to do with common kindness and consideration we hope we’ve earned with those who supposedly enrich our daily lives. It has nothing to do with the person in front of us who holds open the door just out of politeness.
Three weeks ago, and for the past 12 years I can remember, I trusted that no one would suddenly raid my world of Bore's Head, Naturally Cured, Lemon pepper Turkey. Had I known , sure I'd have stocked up. But hoard? What, am I like, a twelve-year-old??
We have got to re-find our faith so we can begin to trust ourselves more. Otherwise what were really saying, by hoarding, is that we too are secretly just as selfish and untrustworthy as we’re accusing others of being.
Without faith and the realization that we're part of a greater whole we secretly die inside. Our optimism wellspring dries up and our every thought becomes only fear based. As a result, our hearts close and with it, the very light that keeps our soul eternal and our spirits
buoyant...evaporates. And with it the thing we should prize most. Kindness.
If we’re going to get through these critical shared times, we’re going to need a very good sense of humor so our war stories will actually inspire the next generation. Just remember you’re never remembered for the life you led, but the last thing you did.
Remember the time when of all things, you couldn’t get anything to wipe your damn ass?
Now that’s funny! At least the four of us at the checkout counter thought so.