I know things are scary right now, but I think we are learning some useful lessons.

First, in a society that elevates productivity as the highest good, this crisis is showing that some things aren’t worth sacrificing, such as our health. I applaud those elected officials and policy leaders who are making hard decisions in order to prioritize the health of our communities, especially those most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Second, we are discovering our interconnectedness. It turns out that paid sick leave is good for the whole community, not just for those who have it. No one wants a teacher, bus driver, hairdresser, house cleaner or checkout clerk to be sick. They should get the resources they need (and deserve) so they can stay home and get treatment, for all of our sakes.

Third, perhaps we will learn that it’s OK to do less and go slower. As things get canceled, it’s true that businesses will suffer, wages will take big hits and parents will scramble for child care. We should do everything we can to create alternatives and compensate for loss of income.

Our governor has made some big promises that I hope are implemented. I hope all elected officials will put mechanisms in place that prioritize people first as opposed to business profits. In the meantime, maybe this break from our usual frenzied pace can help us connect with ourselves and our loved ones (at a distance if necessary), and notice the world around us as it moves into spring.

We can feel our disappointment about all those canceled events, then go ahead and play our own basketball games.

In Santa Fe, we haven’t faced the big climate-related disasters that other parts of the U.S. and the world have started experiencing, but I suspect things are coming our way. This current crisis can help us prepare — both seeing what our reactions are and practicing our responses.

Some of us feel a little panic and some of us feel like all the cancellations and planning are a bit much. And many of us vacillate between the two. In the midst of all these feelings, we can help the most vulnerable among us, share what we have, and do what we in the U.S. sometimes struggle with — reach beyond our individual selves and families, and act for the collective greater good.

Being scared is a feeling that is completely justified and good to acknowledge, but we don’t have to act out of fear. We can still think, and we can still act, with compassion and sense. We have a chance to rise to the occasion here. Let’s take it.

Sparky Griego is a high school teacher and mentor of new teachers in the Santa Fe Public Schools district.

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(2) comments

Nahum Ward-Lev

“Great comments by a wise teacher. Yes, we need to understand at a deeper level how interconnected we are. I hope Santa Fe can lead the way in providing paid sick leave for all workers!”

Miranda Viscoli

Thank you Sparky. This is sage advice!

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