By Stephen Knight
This past week was Sunshine Week for newspapers around the country. They are emphasizing the importance of access to information about and from our various governments. I have a dandy column to write on that subject, but it is time for me to do my part in setting a positive tone as we all weather the unique and unforeseen times we are in.
To that end, this column will be about how the people of Wallingford can, well, act like the people of Wallingford do when members of our community face a crisis such as a fire or devastating illness or any number of difficult circumstances. One of the many reasons I am proud to live here is to see how our sense of community kicks in when we learn of another’s misfortune and reach out to help. GoFundMe accounts get set up, needed food and clothing might be brought over, charity dinners are set up and attended. You name it. When one family is hit hard with adversity, many others step up to help.
Today is just such a time for so very many people. The enforced closure of restaurants, bars, gyms, and other small businesses has hit many employees hard. All of a sudden, by government edict, hundreds of folks here in Wallingford are without a means to make a living. Many of these small businesses can try their best to continue paying out wages, but hundreds of people in these businesses are now unable to serve the public. This enforced isolation is very quickly going to become a substantial and frightening burden to them.
Government assistance will not come fast enough. It never can. Government is big and bureaucratic and cumbersome. Despite the State of Connecticut’s and the federal government’s best efforts – and I will be the first to say that both are doing a pretty good job of navigating these very uncharted waters – hardship will come to a significant percentage of us. (You normally would not read such a statement about government outside this town in this column, but this is indeed a time to look for the positive if there ever was one).
I have three quick suggestions that will be easy to implement if we all just give it some thought.
1.Let’s have a moratorium on carping, whining and complaining, especially on social media. Oceans of ink have been dedicated to writing about our divided country. But, for the time being, even our elected representatives inhabiting Washington (with a few ugly exceptions) are making an effort to work together. Can you believe it? We should, this one time, follow their example. Yes, the pundits and columnists will dissect every utterance, every policy move and every official action. Okay, they do this for a living. But most of us don’t, and we are lucky enough to live in Wallingford, Connecticut. So rather than criticize what is being done and whine about what should be or isn’t being done, just for once cut everyone some slack who is doing more than flapping their gums about this coronavirus crisis (for once, the word crisis actually fits).
2.For those of us who can financially see our way clear, think about the people in your community who are truly being impacted and figure out a way to help them. Know a favorite waitperson at your regular dining spot (that is now closed)? Could you possibly give them the special “tip” they probably deserve anyway? The restaurants you like are closed, but they still have bills to pay. Are they open for takeout? Check and see. Can you buy a gift card or two now that you can redeem later when they are able to reopen? Is your elderly neighbor okay? Can you run some errands for him/her so that they can self-quarantine safely? How about the guy who cuts your lawn (no, not you!)? Most likely he/she is having a real cash flow problem. Can you check with those folks to see if perhaps you can prepay them to tide them over through this calamity?
3.Stay positive. A negative attitude finds problems, a good attitude finds solutions. When we work together to solve a problem, most of the time it is us that come up with the solutions. Look at World War II for an amazing example. Not only did millions of Americans serve in the military and prevail on the battlefield, but we ramped up almost overnight to become the Arsenal of Democracy that provided the tools that every Allied country needed. We did that. When we stay positive, we will come up with solutions to help our neighbors through this. We will emerge from this, stronger individuals in an even stronger community.
Hey, we’re Americans living in Wallingford CT. That’s what we do.