By Heather Buch
Throughout my life, whenever I found myself in an especially challenging place, my mother would repeat to me those wise, graceful words, “This, too, shall pass.”
It would apply to nearly every obstacle.
Those who have lived through times of great change did not know what awaited them on the other side, yet they tempered the highs and lows of the journey with deep patience and their knowledge that this, too, would pass. In an era of constant, magnifying hype, their experience is one we should bear in mind. We will come through on the other side of this crisis. But what awaits us might not be what we expect.
For many people, this pandemic is the single greatest life-altering event they have ever experienced. Virtually every aspect of our daily lives has changed. Many have lost their jobs, their businesses, their opportunity for education, their housing and any stability they once knew — not to mention any semblance of normal human connection.Those on the front lines have experienced more than their fair share of tragedy. Some have sacrificed everything, including their own lives, to save our friends and neighbors. We are forever grateful to them.
As governmental agencies scramble to piece together some sort of return to normal, I am reminded that the future will be permanently altered. It will not be the same as it was, nor should it be. This extraordinary time shines a bright light on many troublesome policies and shameful inequities in the world. As we are required to be in this standstill, it should be a time of deep reflection locally, nationally and globally.
It is only natural that we will see things a bit differently once we emerge from the first global pandemic in generations. We will not be the same people we were when this began. Many people have learned hard lessons and experienced great loss. Recovery will take some time, and we will have to do things not only in ways we’ve never done them before, but in ways we never thought of doing them before. We need our entire community to help us get through it.
If there was ever a time for people with diverse backgrounds and political beliefs to come together, it is now — for the sanctity and preservation of life around the world. Many historic differences that we fought about in the past now pale in comparison to the current crisis. We need to put those differences aside. They will be there later to debate. For now, we must help our neighbors in great need.
Lane County is an exceptionally resilient community. We are very familiar with natural disasters like wildfire, snowstorms and floods. This disaster will be different; nonetheless, we will get through it and see the other side. It will take us all working together to lift our neighbors up, help when we can and serve when we are called upon. Many of you are doing this already and we thank you.
Just as my mother always promised, this too, will pass. When it does, what do you want our community to look like? What do you want our world to look like? In quiet moments between boredom and despair, dream big. Do not settle for normal, aspire to do better. If we can envision something better rising from the ashes of this tragedy, it may just make it easier to bear in the meantime.
Heather Buch is chair of the Lane County Board of Commissioners and represents East Lane County.