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The True World War

I emailed my obstetrician the other day. "Do the benefits of me coming in for my 34-week check-up outweigh the risks of exposure?" His response? "You need to keep your appointment." And so I did. I pocketed my hand sanitizer and set out on a quest to make it safely to and from his office. Don’t touch anything. Don't look at anyone. Don't stop until you arrive. When I got home, I closed the door behind me quickly, slightly out of breath (partially because being this pregnant does that to you), terrified by what I had witnessed.


From everything I have heard and read, we are in the midst of a war, but this time, we're not fighting for our freedom or standing up for slaves, nor are we seeking revenge or hoping to spread democracy. No. This time, the enemy is viral. And invisible. And vicious. And whether or not we signed up, we have all been recruited to the army.


World War I and World War II are really misnomers; the entire world was not involved in either. The People vs. Coronavirus--this is the true world war.


When I went to my doctor appointment two days ago, I assumed I'd be one of the sole warriors on the street; my allies would be home, e-learning and napping and playing with puppies, Clorox and hand sanitizer and soap poised and ready to go were the enemy to threaten.


But as I ventured onto enemy territory (the nebulous Outside), I found the opposite of a ghost town. I passed Target, the parking lot overflowing. I passed Dunkin' Donuts, a woman inside ordering. I passed cars and more cars and more cars. And then I wanted to pass out.


It is in desperate times that the true nature of people shines through, and what I've discovered, and what any teacher can most likely vouch for, is that school classrooms are microcosms of the real world, which makes total sense. Our students are the future adults. [Please note--I have been teaching for nine years and working with kids for 30 years. In no way are the following generalizations meant to be profiles of any specific child with whom I have worked, but rather a composite.]


Every classroom contains those who do exactly as they are told--the "Achievers". They work hard, ask questions for clarification, pay attention, and get the job done. They are always listening, always helping, always aware. As they grow, they challenge the teachers' thinking, more on a quest for true meaning rather than disrespect. They set a fine example for everyone in class. They grow to be the adults who are battling the enemy on the front lines. They bring help to the sick or weak whether it be in the form of healthcare or food. They stay home because they know that the best strategy to come out on top is strength in numbers and everyone is valuable.


Then there are those students who only pay attention when it's something that interests them; otherwise, they are happy to stare off into space, look the other way, or perhaps even keep their nose in a book irrelevant to the topic at hand. When assignments are handed out, they question, "Do we have to do this?" These "Selectives" sometimes come to class prepared and, when they don't feel like it or they have an alternate agenda, they sometimes don't. They grow to be the adults who will stay inside when it's convenient, but if they have a craving, get bored, or feel lonely, they will wait until no one is watching, and then make their move. When they see others in stores for luxury purposes, they will use it as justification. They will rationalize having the party by thinking, It's only us. What harm can one gathering have?, and they will absolve themselves of any wrongdoing because, as we all know, it's impossible to lay blame on which soldier's treason caused more fatalities.


And then there are those students who are withdrawn completely. They sit and do nothing. They walk around in a haze, as if nothing said or done within the confines pertains to them. As adults, these "Rebels" will go to the bar without a care in the world, deny they are even part of the army, and criticize the Achievers for taking everything too seriously.


My 5th grade class just finished studying WWII. They read about people staying home and hiding in fear the Nazis would come knocking on their door, take them to concentration camps, and commit brutal murder.


Now we have more power. If we stay away from others, the enemy weakens. It doesn't have the ability to come knocking on our door. And we are the ones to decide whether or not to open it.

People are sad and scared and lonely. To be a fighter takes sacrifice. Adults agonize over postponed weddings. Spring breakers mourn the loss of beach parties. Kids cry over missing graduations.


But it is the duty of the soldiers who are fit to ensure the safety of those who are weaker. And it is time to take that responsibility seriously. In order to win this battle, we all must do our part.


And if you're not going to help the cause, at the very least don't be part of the problem.


When I think about the birth of my baby daughter, who is due in 38 days, I wonder about the examples of humanity she will witness. Will she notice those who are buying pallets of Clorox, leaving none for the next customer? Will she see those who continue to gather, deeming themselves exempt from the rules? Or will she pay heed to the many who realize they are one link in a very long chain, each one critical to the success of the cause?


Just like becoming a single mom, I don't expect this fight to be easy, but I do expect it to be worth it.


"You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice." Bob Marley


In peace, love, and health,

Jill, Tod Doodle, and (coming soon) Baby Autumn


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©2019 by Jill S. Litwin.