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Marina Gomberg: Reflections at the two-year mark of the pandemic

With truth becoming seemingly subjective, maybe compassion is our only option.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Marina Gomberg.

In early March 2020, we made a strategic and sizable order from Costco.

We didn’t know what to expect from COVID-19, the newly classified global pandemic, so we bought a 25-pound bag of rice, cases of canned beans and disinfectant wipes, jerky and all the best snacks. The toilet paper shortage hadn’t presented itself yet or that would have been included, too.

We worried things could be quite different for weeks.

Hahaha. Sob.

Weeks.

It’s March 2022, and while our main man — the president’s chief medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci — has recently suggested things are easing, we are not out of the woods.

The incredible tax on our health care system, our teachers and students, long-haulers and the growing grief of millions who have lost those they love, paints a more detailed and much less rose-colored picture of our reality.

I do not recommend pandemics. Zero stars.

For as advanced as we humans have become, we still have a limited capacity to control biology, which makes any wily virus a threat to our prosperity. We share our planet with gazillions of other beings, all hoping to thrive and reproduce — some at our expense. It is part of the human condition here on Mama Earth.

I get that. And yet, I keep thinking about how we might have helped this particular virus flourish. I find it challenging not to get really upset about that.

Part of me wants to scream at the people who have twisted the truth into seeming like employing caution was a degradation of our freedoms. Like, really loudly maybe with some spit flying for emphasis (just into my mask, though).

Though, I see the connection between my ire and the reason we’re not particularly kind to one another all the time.

“PLEASE BE SAFER (YOU JERKS),” hasn’t been a wildly successful request so far. When I wrote about the Utah Legislature overturning several county’s mask mandates, some readers suggested I move from Utah and closer to the heart of my safety cult, others suggested I never leave my home since my immunocompromised status is not their problem, and someone suggested I wear a muzzle instead of a mask (as long as it’s five-ply, I guess).

I took that as a hard pass.

I have had genuine concerns about our collective health and want everyone to share the burden, but I’m not sure I’ve offered the same understanding in return. I have found the comparison between safety protocols and violations of constitutionally granted liberties to be so unfounded that I haven’t given much thought to what such a grave threat could feel like.

I don’t know if I’d agree if I listened and sought to understand, but I suspect I’d manifest some empathy and stifle some anger. Both of which I’d welcome, because I bet our discord weakens our defenses.

With truth becoming seemingly subjective, compassion might be our best (only?) option. I don’t really know what that looks like or how to achieve it, but we’re a pretty resilient species so far, so there’s reason to hope we’ll figure it out.

Because much like our bag of rice, we are not yet through this struggle.

Marina Gomberg is a professional communicator, a practicing optimist and a lover of love. She lives in Salt Lake City with her wife, Elenor Gomberg, and their son, Harvey. You can reach Marina at mgomberg@sltrib.com.

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