I am writing this column on St. Patrick’s Day — a day that any other year would be marked by parades and maybe a pint of green beer and a bowl of Irish Stew or Lucky Charms.
Today though, bars and restaurants are closed and there aren’t any parades unless there are fewer than 10 people gathering. I have no idea what will have taken place by the time you read this column in April. After all, less than a week ago the first round of the Big-12 basketball tournament was underway.
By April, I am hopeful we are seeing the fruits of social distancing and an end to the extended spring break. I look forward to greeting the change of seasons with a spirit of appreciation for our health and the work many must do to keep essential services running smoothly while the country shelters in place.
In a crisis, it is critical to meet people’s basic needs and provide a sense of safety. While a case of toilet paper may go overboard, electricity is clearly an essential service. Your cooperative may have implemented restricted office access and perhaps postponed its annual meeting, but these steps were prudent and necessary. We are committed to our communities and nothing is more important than the health and well-being of those we live and work around.
Amid the tidal wave of bad news, we needed the bits of good, the funny posts, creative YouTube channels, and I finally valued those Netflix recommendations from friends. I also subscribe to the Morning Brew, a free email that delivers important news and interesting facts as a witty and concise wake-up call. During the crisis, Morning Brew published its “Guide to Living Your Best Quarantined Life” that compiled everything we need to remain a functioning member of society while working from a living room. Regardless of the state of the pandemic, it is still worth reviewing. For example, it provides links to 450 free Ivy League online courses, 50 best non-fiction books, effective at-home workouts, some great casserole recipes (in case we can have pot-luck gatherings again) and lots more.
Certainly, families will have spent lots of quality time together and maybe even brag that they whipped that 1,000-piece puzzle brought home from the Christmas white elephant exchange several years ago.
These events though give us the opportunity to be better citizens, neighbors and reset our priorities. Most likely, we all know someone who has been hurt by the pandemic events. Some will lose their health, some will lose their income, and fortunes big and small have disappeared. Some will be so busy taking care of others that they can’t adequately consider their own health and well-being. We need to look for little ways to help those less fortunate when and where we can.
It is probably too much to hope that the pandemic will be a fix for our country’s political differences — the frustration, anger and blame will extend through the election cycle. But there will be thousands of inspiring, creative community responses to this pandemic. These stories must be told, widely shared and inspire us to do our part to make the world a better, happier and safer place.
So, on St. Patrick’s Day, it seems appropriate to end this column with the traditional Irish Prayer:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Bruce Graham is Chief Executive Officer of Kansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. in Topeka.