How to Share During a Pandemic

Updated: Mar 13, 2020

We live on Bainbridge Island, just a 35-minute ferry ride west of Seattle, where we're 20 miles from Ground Zero of the US COVID-19 outbreak. Things escalated quickly just over a week ago, when Governor Jay Inslee declared a State of Emergency to help us confront the community spread of this disease. Within two hours of his announcement, our local grocery stores were empty of many household staples, from rubbing alcohol to cans of soup.

It is tempting to react to this pandemic by attempting to build a private fortress against the virus and the ills of the world. We are urging everyone to resist this embrace of scarcity thinking. Instead of stocking up on finite resources (think toilet paper), where "more for you, is less for me," we believe the better protection for all of us comes from a sharing mindset that focuses on the abundance we have as a community. When we shift our perspective and behavior this way, "more for you, is more for me," as author and scholar Charles Eisenstein puts it. What happened with masks is an example of how scarcity thinking endangers all of us. As masks were purchased in bulk by individuals for private stockpiles, the international supply was depleted, leaving health care professionals and sick people without the masks they need to protect themselves. When our first responders, hospital staff, and contagious people don't have masks, we all suffer. Putting our common good first, and sharing our resources where they are most needed, protects all of us.

As we're bracing for our state's "mandatory measures" for social distancing, we're also thinking about how we can play our interconnected strength into this scenario to reduce pressure on social services. The more we help each other with some basics, the more our public programs will have to focus on those who are sick or otherwise in urgent need. If we band together as neighbors, we can flatten the curve while lessening the economic hardship on individuals. In addition to looking after your own household's needs, this is the time to build upon local connections to look after our common welfare. The CDC's recent announcement that people over 60 or in any high risk category