We Need To Take Care of Each Other
Existentialism (and Depression) Has Prepared Me For This Exact Moment
One day, we will all die alone. You know this, right? Maybe you said it during your emo-teenager-phase, spouting philosophy in the most obnoxious way. Maybe you heard it from your friend who always seem stuck in a downward spiral but is the best shoulder to cry on. We scoff at those who are obsessed with death, mock and make memes of those who religiously follow true crime podcasts and share ominously that the world is ending, wonder about their sanity. Who wants to think about death?
In America, we’re semi-leading the way in third-world dystopias masquerading as first-world paradises. (All the best dystopias seem wonderful at first glance, like a beautiful flytrap.) We spend the majority of our time staring at screens and consuming advertising (approx. 4,000 hrs a year). We’ve got authoritarian wild-eyed leadership. We’ve got a shorter life expectancy, an opioid epidemic, and we spend 3x as much time playing video-games as we do socializing.
We work until we die and praise those who produce 24/7. We pay next to nothing for our massive increase in productivity. We demonize those who believe in basic rights like healthcare, living wages, the ability to practice your religion in peace, the legal (not even moral) choice of who you want to live your one life on this miserable planet with, and we aren’t even happy about our own lots.
An Atlantic poll with the Public Religion Research Institute found that only 17% of Americans were even hopeful about the future of our country. (20–30% were either angry, fearful, or sad.) That poll was in the simpler, more innocent time of 2018 (which, holy shit, was just two years ago).
One day, we will all die. Death could come as cancer that starts as a persistent ache. Could be a car accident that comes suddenly. Could die at 93 years old in your own bed at the end of a long life. Anything could be THE thing. The reason people show up and give eulogies (or not) about you. Causes of death are as numerous as the people living on earth.
Still, there are those of us who think constantly about death. We’re the existentialists. The anxious friends. The germaphobes. The suicidal. The exhausted mothers with post-partum. We’re the ones who run the worst-case scenarios in our heads, and we been done seen the damn writing on the wall. We knew one more straw was going to break the camel’s back, and the crap had already hit the fan and gotten in the corners.
While we were shouting at the top of our lungs about climate change, resource hoarding by the wealthy, the painfully inadequate healthcare system, our lack of meaningful community, our almost worthless democracy, our lack of empathy toward our most vulnerable, our global economy teetering closer and closer to the edge of an extremely high cliff, our forests being ravaged by wildfires, ya’ll were………….mocking us and making memes and scoffing. “The world isn’t burning; we’re just that hot.” ya’ll shouted at us and high-fived, secure that everything was business as usual.
Then, Covid-19 happened, and you promptly lost your ever-loving shit.
One day, we’re here. We’re not used to taking care of each other, but we are on the hardest difficulty level right now. I’m not here to light a candle, share art, or volunteer my time and energy to help others. I do that in my day-to-day life. My anxiety and depression tends to give me an eerie sense of calm during moments like this. When you’re constantly preparing for the worst, you feel strangely comforted when the worst actually comes. No, this is written for those of you who are living through your very first panic attacks. Those of you who are panic-buying because it gives you a small sense of control. Those of you who were attacking brown mothers for fleeing terrible situations for the sake of their families and cheering children locked in cages who are now fearful for your children and your elderly parents. I get you. I see you. I’m not here to judge.
There is no room for judgement in this moment, though there might be a few ‘I Told You So’ murmurs from the crowd. We are in this together. Don’t believe me? Look at the families sharing about family dinners. Look at the musicians in Italy sharing music from their balconies. Look at us lobbying for paid sick leave. Look at the museums and art galleries making content available for free though we said it wouldn’t work for lower-income families. Look at us making telecommuting and remote work opportunities available on a dime though we refused for people with disabilities. Look at the companies who have stopped putting the bottom line over the welfare of the people. We are all in this together.
Now, I am going to share a little secret with you. We’re offering healthcare to anyone for free if they desperately need it because of this crisis. We’re pulling 1.3 trillion “out of thin air” to pay for food aid, welfare aid, wage relief, healthcare for all, etc… We’re stopping interest on student loans, cracking down on price gouging, and helping our lower-income neighbors out by not making them pay taxes out the wazoo. We’ve known for years that this could be done. We. Just. Haven’t. Done. It.
I’m a lot of things. Christian. Woman of Color. Writer. Special-Ed Teacher. Nonprofit Employee, but I’ve never fully stopped being that semi-nihilistic emo kid spouting philosophy in the corner. I embrace the idea of my death and acknowledge that every moment will pass.
Many humans refuse to do this one simple thing.
Think of it as the attitude that says “We’re all going to die. Might as well enjoy life while it lasts.” without the selfishness.
I want EVERYONE to enjoy life because I know the void is coming for ALL of us.