SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Americans like to think of ourselves as rolling up our sleeves to do a hard job. But these days, we have to remind ourselves, first, wash our hands. The coronavirus has made some of our longtime slogans and cliches about confronting a crisis sound just a little tinny. There is no way to get tough with a virus. As the medical staff so staunchly at work in hospitals now can attest, viruses are the truly tough characters. No regimen of aerobics, running, weight training, or Pilates will make anyone so fit, they become immune to COVID-19. No paleo, macro, low-carb or vegan diet will make anyone impervious. No slogans or official bluster can make COVID-19 cower. And no faith, optimism, good vibes or philosophy can protect any human being from becoming infected.
It's a time not just for determination and grit but hand sanitizer and disinfectants. Churchillian blood, tears, toil, and sweat won't help humans prevail through this virus so much as soap, water, masks, and a sense of humor, which, by the way, Churchill also possessed. It may be a time that's less for the courage to sail out into the world than for the audacity for those who can to stay inside and explore places through books, music, friendships and our own imaginations. It may be a time to be intrepid enough to be even-tempered and good-humored even as we spend hour after hour looking at the same walls and people with all family members home, hungry, and noisy, with no restorative respite from even those we cherish. It's a time to have the simple human consideration not to be a risk to those we love or total strangers by paring down our presence in the street, stores, and workplaces, which is the only way known right now to try to keep people from becoming infected or endangering others.
Theories are being traded now among scientists and public officials about what markers must be met before more people can begin to safely move about the world again. We like to look for dates and timelines. We ask people their opinions, but viruses don't abide by clocks or calendars. They don't sign surrenders. The biggest victory for a while may be just getting by. A country on hold in so many ways is hard on all, especially those who've lost their jobs, who may be poor, who may be sick or who may be lonely. The wisest rallying cry for weeks like this and perhaps ahead may be just patience.
(SOUNDBITE OF TAME IMPALA SONG, "PATIENCE")
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.