Friday, May 24, 2024

For weeks now, most of us have practiced social distancing and followed stay-at-home guidelines. Our community and country are beginning to see the benefits. Health care professionals and infectious disease experts are nervously hopeful – but afraid Americans will become complacent and ease off, causing a reemergence of Covid-19 in communities that may have passed the apex of this pandemic. We are missing the many things we took for granted just a few short weeks ago, and many people are dealing with job loss and severe income insecurity on top of the health fears. The system for applying for unemployment has been crushed by some 17 million applications nationwide since the beginning of this crisis.

For myself, I am lucky. I know this. I learned Thursday that a health care professional I trusted completely with my care was being furloughed because of the crisis. Members of my family have lost their jobs, but I’m thankful they’re healthy. My partner and I, practicing social distancing and safety, go for walks now and then and have taken on the challenge of counting the rabbits in our neighborhood. (Our record is 10 rabbits counted during one walk. We are as determined as a world-class Olympic runner at the starting gate to break this record.) We’ve even begun looking for bears in the windows of East Cambridge homes. I know how lucky I am to have such a wonderful woman in my life. I will also be forever thankful for the opportunity to share my opinions and thoughts so widely throughout our community.

Communities across the nation are coming together to assist those economically affected by this crisis. We are learning, sometimes forcibly, how connected we all are to each other.

As a devout liberal Catholic during the holiest week on the Catholic calendar, celebrating Mass virtually with my cat was a first. This has made me appreciate my community now more then ever. I’ve delivered needed medications to my elderly neighbors only to feel saddened by the loneliness evident on their faces from a distance, or as they look through a window. I’m grateful they trust me enough to reach out for help with something we recently were able to do without worry. It’s my way of saying thank you to them for welcoming to their community decades ago.

I hope this crisis will change our community for the better. We are all realizing how fragile our world truly is. In no order of importance, our government (especially voting), economy, health care, education and the environment were taken for granted by all of us in different degrees.

Reflecting during this holy season, I am confident our community will rise up and be stronger then ever, but that we must stop taking community for granted. We are all members of a world community.

Happy Easter, Passover and Ramadan.

Emmanuel “Manny” Lusardi is an East Cambridge resident, long time immigrant advocate and former Liaison for Immigrant Affairs to the Cambridge Mayors office.