Dear <<First Name>>,
I’d like you to promise me one thing. As soon as you finish reading this newsletter, find someone to talk to about it. Maybe that conversation will happen on the phone, on video chat, or even in person. But however it happens, make it happen. This is a moment for us to recommit to the basics of democratic citizenship — and the most basic of the basics is that none of us is truly on our own.
The coronavirus may require us now to practice “social distancing” — but only in a physical, embodied sense. When it comes to the heart, the spirit, and the mind, coronavirus requires us more than ever before to practice civic love.
That’s why we are keeping our next scheduled Civic Saturday, March 28, on the books. But it will be virtual and not face-to-face — you'll find more details on our Facebook page in the next few days. And in doing so, we want to urge you not to view it but to join it, and not alone but with a few others. It may be just three of you around a kitchen table but the three of you will be webbed together with many other such pods of people seeking belonging and comfort in these times.
As extraordinary as this pandemic is, some of our everyday principles at Citizen University still apply — indeed, they apply with even more relevance now.
- Society becomes how you behave— Our behaviors are literally and figuratively contagious. So, yes, practice good hygiene and take preventative measures. But don’t give in to fear, don’t spread it and make it self-fulfilling. Balance anxiety with fact and context, and understand that we have to keep each other not just un-sick but sane.
- We’re all better off when we’re all better off — In times like these we notice anew a truth that’s always there: the community is only as healthy as its least healthy members. The case for paid sick leave, for a stronger public health system, for aid to the most vulnerable is a case not only of charity or altruism but also of systemic, societal, enlightened self-interest.
- Don’t hoard power; circulate it— The temptation to hoard has never been higher. But when we all withdraw and hold on to what we have, when we stop circulating our concern, our money, our attention, our power and instead direct all those things to ourselves, you know what happens? The body politic seizes up. The economy has a heart attack. So keep circulating your money, your time, your care to those who cannot survive this period alone, whether that’s a small business or an isolated neighbor.
Civic love in the time of coronavirus. Let that be the story we now write together.