The lucky ones–even in a pandemic

by Emrys Westacott

When I feel myself becoming irritable, disheartened, or just plain fed-up with life during the pandemic, I find it helpful to conduct a thought-experiment familiar to the ancient Stoics. I reflect on how much I have to be grateful for, and how things could be so much worse. That prompts the more general question: Who are the fortunate, and who are the unfortunate at this time?

Let’s consider the unfortunate first. These include:

  • the dead, the dying, the seriously ill, and those who suffer the loss of family and friends;
  • the desperate: undocumented immigrants without access to social services; refugees; migrants; and the already destitute;
  • the endangered: people with pre-existing conditions that make covid 19 especially dangerous; those residing or working in nursing homes, hospitals, prisons, meatpacking factories, and other places where the contagion spreads easily;
  • the fearful: this includes millions who face serious financial insecurity as their income suddenly no longer covers their expenses: workers who have lost their jobs or been furloughed; the self-employed whose revenues have dried up; business owners who no longer have sufficient customers;
  • the domestically stressed: all those whose domestic situation is unhappy or unhealthy due to loneliness, incapacity, overcrowding, dysfunctional relationships, or just the lack of opportunities to relax, exercise, or experience a refreshing change of scene;
  • the disappointed: students in schools and colleges whose whole experience, both educational and social, has been diminished; all those on career paths whose prospects appear suddenly blighted;
  • the bored.

As for the fortunate, these include:

  • those who avoid death, serious sickness, or the loss of loved ones;
  • those who are relatively free from financial anxiety as their jobs or income from other sources are reasonably secure;
  • those who are in satisfactory domestic circumstances, living with people they get along with, or at least able to communicate regularly with family and friends;
  • those who are not bored.

It is the last category in each of these groups that I want to talk about. Read more »