Dr. Cassandra L. Bailey (Courtesy Photo)

The coronavirus has turned the world upside down. In fact, its global impact might have resulted in this being the first time that individuals can truly identify with what people residing in other parts of the world are feeling. Thanks to the media and our local, state, and national political figures, we are well informed of the alarming impact that COVID-19 has had on the United States and beyond. New York has held the number one position in the highest percentages of COVID-19 cases and deaths with New Jersey, Minnesota, and California gaining momentum.

If the coronavirus itself is not enough to send individuals into a panic, the efforts to slow the spread of the virus have resulted in a catastrophic disruption of life for most, if not all, Americans. Without delving into the financial, social, educational, residential, psychological, and political details resulting from the onslaught of the coronavirus and adherence to the “Safer at Home” Public Health Order, it is likely that life pre-COVID-19 will never be the same. At best, society will find itself adapting to the “new normal” willingly or kicking and screaming. Nonetheless, there are choices during times of peril.

Rather than lament the negative reality of the current state of the nation, why not focus on the rose sprouting through concrete pavement? We can choose to focus on the detrimental effects of this emotionally shocking crisis, or we can choose to cleanse our lenses and see the beauty emerging. While small and large companies are struggling, many business owners are using their knowledge and skills to keep a revenue stream flowing, although gravely reduced, while helping communities. Unknowing, aspiring entrepreneurs have identified a need and found a way to supply the demand. When masks became scarcely available for purchase, sewing machines were dusted off and patterns were cut from an array of fabric to fill the void. In March, the reduction of cars traveling the streets coupled with much needed rain resulted in Los Angeles having the cleanest air in the country, with the caveat being picturesque blue skies. Prior to being instructed to do so, how often have we longed for the opportunity to take a moment to relax at home? When was the last time our entire schedule went from being completely full to having no plans at all without feeling slightly guilty for having time for ourselves? How often have we vowed to do something around the house, or to forge our personal goals only to report that we have been too busy to accomplish the task? How many people will return to work or school in better shape than they were pre-pandemic because they are exercising more and eating home cooked meals rather than ordering out?

Maya Angelou eloquently stated, “Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space at the same time.
Invite one to stay.” While the emotional shock of this crisis can keep us focused on the detrimental results that have surfaced, why not change the paradigm and consider the beauty that has transcended? Rather than ask why me, ask why not me. Use this time to have a mad love affair with yourself. Strengthen relationships, beginning with yourself. Make lasting memories with family and friends.
Hone your skills for the next job that is waiting for you. Open the book that you have been putting off reading. Use this opportunity to make a lifestyle change. It has been said, “if you do something everyday for three weeks, it will become a habit.” What new behaviors have you developed?

As the “Stay at Home” public health mandate is gradually lifted in states across the country, there are political actions requiring our attention which must retain our focus. Unless otherwise notified, the presidential election is in November. In the midst of sudden life transformations influenced by the coronavirus, it is crucial that we let our vote be our voice. Now more than ever, completing the census is imperative. Have we forgotten the bewilderment felt about redistricting as an outcome of the census results a decade ago?

In addition to exercising our politically astute muscles, here are four recommendations to help us maneuver through this phase of life and emerge better post COVID-19.

  1. Find creative ways to stay connected with friends and family. Spend time talking to children about family history.
  2. Identify what skills can be learned or improved to be competitive in a changing job market.
  3. Take advantage of this time to read a book written by a favorite author, or discover a new

literary subject.

  1. Take this time to make new beginnings, particularly if “the way things were” did not

foster growth.

We are descendants of survivors. Our resilience is second nature. United we stand; divided we fall. There is nothing we cannot overcome, particularly if we choose to live interdependently. The content of our character is transparent during times of adversity. Let us not allow personal struggles keep us from bestowing love upon others. For, when the veil is lifted, how will we wish to be seen? We can accomplish all things if we can see the vision, believe, and have faith. There is nothing keeping us from persevering during times of uncertainty except the last two characters in the word “can’t”. A skeptic might ask why. Because we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

Lifting We Climb,

Dr. Cassandra L. Bailey

Dr. Bailey is a higher education administrator, Founder and Coordinator of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, and Executive Director of Ignited Light.  Her motto is “Lifting as We Climb,” as she believes we are all interdependent and can achieve more by helping one another move forward, rather than walking alone.