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In the heat of the COVID-19 panic, there is a desperate urge to protect ourselves from a virus of which little is known about. We arm ourselves with reading article after article about the advent and spread of the virus. We stock up on protective equipment as well as daily necessities, since COVID-19 has threatened life as we know it. We have ended up engaging in oppositional discussions with our loved ones about what is the best thing to do for the family or relationship. How much protection is considered enough? What actions in our daily life can we take that are considered safe? The debates over these questions seemingly never stop, leaving everyone tense and exhausted.

At the crux of these dilemmas, exists one deep inquiry. These are questions that we rarely encounter in our modern lives. How much does each of us value living life in the moment over protecting it for tomorrow? What is our personal capacity for accepting risk in the face of possible imminent peril?

These questions don’t come up on the first date. Or the last date. They are not discussed in family dinners. We often come to believe that others will think like us, especially if we agree on other important matters of life. This is not necessarily the case. Many couples and families are discovering right now that their tolerances for risk in the face of death are not identical. When faced with an opinion that is different from others, we code it as a betrayal of the highest sort for potentially endangering our lives.

This is why we should exactly not do that. If we are to make it through COVID-19 (or possibly even thrive amidst it), we will need each other. We will need the strength and support of our loved ones. This doesn’t mean that everyone agrees with each other. I am suggesting we acknowledge the fact that in our lifetimes, we never had to check if our loved ones had a similar belief for what to do during a pandemic. Then, we accept that it is no one’s fault that our opinions may be different. We employ communication techniques to hear everyone and demonstrated that their perspectives are valued and respected. Maybe we do not always get what we want, but consideration amidst the relationship or family can be fostered. Actions will be taken upon consultation with our loved ones, as opposed to being taken rashly out of animosity.

We will never all think the same, but that doesn’t mean we cannot support each other during a crisis. Our society has become more diverse, and so our opinions have become more diverse. We must adopt a listening ear to lift everyone up, now more than ever.

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