One of the remarkable aspects of the current health crisis for many Americans is that they are realizing – perhaps for the first time – just how important work is in their lives. American society values work. Often, our very sense of identity is based on what we do to make a living. Think of the commonly asked question, “so what do you do?” In past centuries, in American society, a person was known by their actual occupation – in small towns, someone was “the baker” or “the tailor” or the “druggist” (a pharmacist).
Now, we are collectively required to stay at home, away from our jobs, for health reasons. This creates understandable unhappiness and anxiety. We also begin to feel the financial pressures of not being able to work. We think, will our work still be there when this is over?
Despite these challenges, we can learn and grow from this experience. At least in the short-term, this current situation may allow us to be more understanding of those, who, through no fault of their own, cannot work for health reasons. We can begin to empathize more greatly with the occupationally disabled for whom day in, day out, their lives mirror our own at this point. Think about that for a moment – the occupationally disabled live for years with this type of existence. Most of us have only had to endure two weeks of it at this point.
For those who are able to work from home, we can be thankful for the gift of work. We can be thankful that we have a place where our skills and abilities are able to be put to good use – to help others in whatever our chosen vocation may be.
We will get through this, and we will come out of this experience, wiser, stronger, and with a greater capacity to truly see the inherent dignity in the lives of all our fellow citizens.