• Father Bob Meyer

Becoming The Compassionate Ones

Dear Friends:


Recently I was browsing the web and came across this article entitled, The different types of college students and their reactions to COVID-19 by Avani Venkatesh published about a year ago. I was fascinated because the categories presented seem to describe so many of us in these last months, not only college students.

Venkatesh starts by noting that coronavirus needs no introduction, adding that the repercussions of the virus on the economy, the lower class, and the health care system in America are unmatched. The author then lists and describes different college-student perspectives on COVID-19 as:

The Overwhelmed Ones

The Desensitized Ones

The Paranoid Ones

The Informed Ones

The ‘Let's Buy Cheap Plane Tickets’ Ones

The Sociological Ones

The Overwhelmed Ones are scared, anxious, and are not coping with change well. Aside from the global pandemic, they are more concerned by how their daily lives have changed. They will have to move completely to online classes, and will not be getting a tuition, food, or housing refund. Their mind is racing trying to figure out how they will survive transitioning from the most novel, stimulating environment they have ever been in (college) to the least (home with parents).

The Desensitized Ones: The desensitized ones do not understand the gravity of the situation and are not practicing social distancing. Current college students are a generation victim to information overload and are severely desensitized to all types of news. They have been on social media since adolescence and are accustomed to constantly receiving shocking information. When everything is exaggerated, everything is a big deal, which means nothing is. Their desensitized nature makes this group a danger to themselves and everyone around them. They do not understand the importance of “flattening the curve” and are making the lives of the elderly, immunocompromised, and healthcare workers more difficult.

The Paranoid Ones: This group is overreacting to the gravity of the situation. They have bought three water bottle cases, 35 rolls of toilet paper, 10 boxes of pasta, and 15 packets of Clorox wipes. Rather than helping the situation through practical methods, they are perpetuating it, making goods inaccessible for lower income families and creating a sense of panic in the community. Urgency is important and causes people to act with caution and foresight. Panic creates selfishness and relates to gun sales in America increasing as the pandemic worsens. In a time where empathy and compassion are needed most, panic and selfishness are the worst quality to display.

The Informed Ones: The informed ones are doing their part in researching and spreading reliable information. Though it is difficult to research and find information on such a new, under researched virus, they are trying their best. The informed one, most importantly, is pointing out misinformation and unreliable sources, which are very apparent all-over social media.

The “Let’s Buy Cheap Plane Tickets” Ones: This group holds the most problematic mentality regarding COVID-19. It is most common in younger people who are unaffected, and who feel that because they are not old or immunocompromised and don’t interact with anyone old or immunocompromised, it is not their job to care about the spread. They are severely undereducated about the situation and are the reason the spread is so difficult to slow.

The Sociological Ones: The sociological ones are interested most by the implications COVID-19 has on American society and culture. American culture is one based in productivity and capitalism, where everyone is used to bringing their work home, working overtime, and constantly thinking about and stressing about work. Now, hundreds of Americans who were used to not having a minute to spare in their days are plagued with boredom and cabin fever. The sociological ones are amazed at how a culture so rooted in productivity and efficiency can so quickly slow down. The sociological ones cannot wait to see the implications the virus will have on American culture as a whole and believe that this virus is proof to Americans that productivity is not everything, and it is possible to slow down, engage in hobbies, and live a more relaxed life. The sociological ones are also interested in how different generations, ethnicities, and regions are reacting to the virus, and the implications of their responses on their cultures.

The article ends with noting that as everyone is becoming more educated and aware of the role each individual plays, the mentalities are converging. Venkatesh writes that she now sees more of “The Informed Ones” fully understanding the interdependence of the situation, and less of The “Let’s Buy Cheap Plane Tickets” Ones.

The final line reads: “Most importantly, kind and empathetic companies, professors, grocery store employees, and health care workers are inspiring the creation of a new and more powerful group – The Compassionate Ones.”

As we come out of the darkness of the coronavirus, let’s also commit to being The Compassionate Ones. We need one another and can help one another get to the place of peace again … one day, one person, one act of kindness at a time.

RSM

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