Thursday, March 19, 2020
I’d like to take my reporter hat off for a moment and address our readers directly. Right now, we are facing one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. At the University of Mississippi Medical Center press conference Thursday, we were told that "in 50 years, children will be reading about this in books."
That's true. The events of 2020, the year itself, will be one of those eternally meaningful dates, a cultural and historical signifier. But that history will not just live in books. What you choose to do in the coming days and weeks will be the history you carry with you, as it will be for me.
As this coronavirus catastrophe has lurched toward us, we talk about how odd it all seems, how paradoxical, foreign to our understanding of what a crisis looks like, what "bravery" or "action" should resemble. Our model of crisis is Pearl Harbor, 9/11, moments of fight or flight.
But the enemy we will face in the coming months is not visible. It is the consequence of our actions from weeks before. And as we grapple with it, day to day, we set the stage for fights yet to come.
Here we have a post-modern crisis for our post-modern era. But we will be called to account for our actions all the same. The action needed now is patience, discipline and fortitude. We need commitment both to trusting expertise and to resisting the urge to take this moment for granted.
Read breaking coverage of COVID-19 in Mississippi, plus safety tips, cancellations, more in the JFP's archive.
Most difficult to grasp will be the quiet nature of success. The more we commit to the only strategy available to us— isolation, distancing, hygiene and social discipline—the more it will seem that our measures are not needed. But they are, in these moments, more than ever.
We do not have to pause our humanity in this fight, no matter how long and drawn out it may become. We have the ability to stay connected, to stay fulfilled, and to remain a local, national and global community in the period to come.
University of Mississippi grads generally understand that it's considered hackneyed to quote William Faulkner. But in a time like this, I find myself agreeing with his sentiments. We will not merely endure this: we will prevail.
Reporter Nick Judin is leading coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in Mississippi for the Jackson Free Press. Email him tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @nickjudin. Read full coverage at jacksonfreepress.com/covid19.