There have been times in my life when I didn’t have toilet paper. I usually had a roof over my head (even if it was a carroof), but we didn’t always have finished floors. Did you know that the term “dirt poor” is an Americanism from the 1930s referring to someone living in a house that has a dirt floor? In the United States in the 1990s, I was dirt poor, fleeing from one terrifying temporary non-home to another. Being dirt poor is not just a third world condition, it’s not just a Great Depression Era throw-back, and it doesn’t exclude any race.
With that context, I have to tell you that toilet paper is not very important. Having a safe place to sleep is nice, but even that is not essential to getting through a crisis. I can tell you that having a roof overhead does not mean you’re safe and having a dirt floor does not mean the world is coming to an end. I got through horrible conditions because I loved my family and I felt a responsibility to take care of them. I got through it because I decided I would.
This pandemic, unlike the poverty I experienced, is unprecedented. Every day I hear news reports of new challenges, sometimes followed by proposed solutions. Guess what? Human struggle is not new. Was it Jim Roberts or that guy from Jurassic Park, who said, “Chaos equals change and change equals growth.” If you’ve been in a video conference recently with colleagues who are coping despite technological knowledge gaps or lack of childcare, you have seen this theory play out first-hand. Sometimes it takes some cat-wrangling and mute button reminders, but generally people learn to adjust. As a species we adapt.
Although adaptation and growth are two important components we've developed as homosapiens, there is something to be said about our fundamental core values collectively and as individuals. At FCNI all-staff meetings, we are encouraged to tout the mission statement in unison, "to enhance the wellbeing of children, youth, and families in partnership with our community." I urge you, now more than ever, to tap into your core values. Remember that FCNI serves the needs of the community AND relies on the community to keep us in that state of service. Understanding this balance keeps me feeling determined. It reminds me of the responsibilities I share as an "essential employee."
Perspective is everything. You are living through one of those events that future generations will read about. How does this future history lesson fit with your personal story? Decide. Take care of your loved ones and, in an updated quote from that Chaos Theory guy from Jurassic Park, “You will remember to wash your hands before you [touch] anything?”
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