Opinion: How the Heart of California has responded and may yet respond to the Coronavirus

Have our technology and cell phones that we’ve shrugged off perhaps been saving some of our lives? Are social distancing and cleanliness a new spiritual way or a modest cure to a new way of living?

There are many films that have scripted similar narratives of these strange times, like “The Seventh Seal (1957),” ‘The Andromeda Strain (1971),” “Outbreak (1995),” "12 Monkeys (1995)," “Blindness (2008),” “Contagion (2011),” “World War Z (2013).” All films that hopefully keep you busy at home, yet these same films that entertained us.

What would we do if our families are touched as in these fictional depictions and fall ill? What could we do? Should we grow our own food before the cost of a head of lettuce may rise in price to $10.

Well, there is no question we should wear our masks, stay clean and try our absolute best to heal at home.

Yet these times seem to be an eerie reminder of the 1918 Pandemic, of what was called the Spanish flu.

To what degree have we forgotten or remembered the influenza of 1918-1920? That was ironically affecting the youth instead of the old and weary, as this virus seems to prey upon the weak.

They say that it must be different because in those days, plumbing wasn’t in every house as it is in these days. Should we continue to think in the context of “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” and that cleanliness and social distancing are the best ways to prepare, and should that be all we’re told to do?

I think social distancing is one of the best answers we have to control spread. But indulge me and let us dig deeper.

In Madera, a small town that is growing, we might have the benefit of not being a crowded city like New York, whose citizens unfortunately must worry that social distancing must be more difficult due to the population and infrastructure of living.

Some Madera folks who have experienced the COVID-19 illness have recuperated, yet wonder in one way or another: How do we socially and pragmatically mitigate these complex medical and economic concerns? The public may be unaware of how everything might work in the tiers of political influence and authority. Yet how does our medical vs. economic system connect to function fairly under our democracy to service our public needs?

Sara Bosse, Madera County’s health director, is doing a great job in preparing for a future with COVID-19. She is pushing for more money to pay for testing in our jurisdiction.

She also praises the Madera County Sheriff’s department, and other law enforcement agncies for volunteering in Mutual Aid and Just In Time Training (JIT), and doing an exceptional job in contact tracing and informing our public which has helped control the disease in our location.

Yet there have been some varying opinions from the public, that also should have light shed on them.

There was a story about one husband who was scolded by a doctor for going to the hospital in Fresno wishing to maintain social distance from his wife and child. Due to this doctor’s scolding, the anonymous man left Fresno and came to a Madera hospital to get tested.

His narrative of what the sensations of the disease felt like was likened to the feeling of drowning. For a person who personally wanted to be an officer, I might be biased, but have always found myself proud of officers in Madera. I have never met more exceptional people in law enforcement. They seem to be well versed in common sense, humanity and empathy.

For me, personally, as long as officers here at the core are remembering and hopefully reminded to be kind and selfless above all, and as long as officers male and female are looking after our daughters first and foremost as much as possibly fit. Then I’m on their team and believe in our community doing great works for the big picture.

However, this is a time where authorities who are employed to assist its public also should worry about themselves or worry about doing great works. I think keeping our words to each other intimately in duty to our souls before our Hippocratic oaths and to the law enforcement oath in honor is important. But can this be a time where we should up the standard of caring for kindness?

Caring for kindness could be an added addition perhaps to all public service oaths taken by public officials protected by the constitution as a new standard, for more justice than the ones before that predate to Hammurabi before we called it, the Golden Rule:

In everything, do onto others as you would have done to you. — Matthew 7:12

Wouldn’t that be the best reform to any democracy that could come out of COVID-19? For aren’t those ideals the essence if not the entire underlying aspirations of why Law exists. To try to ensure we are kind, fair and just to each other as we wish to be to ourselves. Is it not the quintessential way to exist as it relates to interpersonal relations with the public in mind?

How can we care for others with social distancing being of precedence, one might ask.

In summary, you do so by empathy — trying to remember communication is the antidote to all suffering, while recognizing empathy in action is caring to help someone beside ourselves.

To text that person back or respond to that phone call. There are ways to care and be as gossamer, without the need to touch. For there are other ways to touch others, with your words, heart, and mind. Have you forgotten that your mind is the most sensual organ in your bodies?

It is the one that is in charge of all else, and it’s the vessel that can trample all over our peace if we do not take a moment to express gratitude. Therefore, in this socialized appreciation for cleanliness, let us not forget to clean our words, thoughts, hearts and minds, as well as keeping our bodies clean.

Can we try to be grateful to the duty of simply cleaning our own homes? Washing our dishes, cleaning our counters and floors a day out of the week? Appreciate that you have lived without knowing hunger or oppression in a time where an invisible entity, like a virus wears a crown above us all perhaps only to remind us.

We are not different than any of COVID 19s ill subjects. That the virus doesn’t choose you based on your nationality, class, creed or kind. Yet this invisible entity is here to perhaps ask us:

“Have you ever cared enough about what it must have felt like for others, who’ve lived under oppression, injustice, and pain?

“To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue; these five are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.”

— Confucius

“No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”

— Aesop

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M. K. Salah-Smith is an artist, journalist, and essayist who lives in Madera.

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