Dear Editor,

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed the way our society operates as it has in the past, but the new deadly consequences of this pandemic has caused us locally and nationally to change our everyday responses to the way we used to live.

Change is hard, and the frustrations of those changes were expressed by Virginia Lamp in a recent Letters to the Editor column. Change is not only hard but sometimes scary, and that is why it is so important to educate ourselves about the current situation.

The citizens of Kansas are not under house arrest. As much as we had enjoyed the freedom to come and go as we had pleased, we are now required to adopt social distancing guidelines to help us and our communities remain safe. Even though a person may not enjoy wearing a mask, it is a small effort to help our community remain safe.

This pandemic is now requiring us to change our thinking from individual freedom as to what is best for our community and what is my responsibility to my community. My rights have not been taken away, but the execution of some of my rights have changed.

I may not be able to attend a town hall meeting to let my representatives know how frustrated I am by the pandemic, but I can still call, email or write to let them know my feelings. A business may require that we wear a mask upon entry, but that is no different than a business requiring a person to wear a shirt and shoes in their store. The guidelines for the health and safety of a community may have changed, but we can certainly adapt.

I appreciate how the governors in the U.S. have had to adapt very quickly to this crisis situation. The governors of the 50 states have had to rapidly make changes to best address the crises in their states, and Governor Kelly has done an excellent job trying to address a situation that has no definitive answers.

Members of the Kansas Legislature have worked hard to come together to do what is best for our state, and that is not an easy job with a target that keeps moving. A lot of frustration comes from not being able to address the unknowns about this pandemic, but that is why smart and attentive elected officials rely on obtaining some of the answers from qualified individuals such as health care officials.

So, what can we do as a community to combat the feelings of frustrations and fear? First, realize that we need to take one day at a time. I start my day with a prayer of gratitude. I am grateful for the many first responders who take care of the rest of us. The doctors, nurses, medical personnel, police and fire departments, mental health counselors, store clerks, teachers and, yes, parents and other family members who are on the front lines of facing this disease.

I am grateful that our church decided to make the Sunday service available online, and our Sunday School class is being conducted through the ZOOM website. Do I like it? Not really, but I know this method is keeping everyone safe, and I am grateful to keep in touch with my faith community.

I have sewed masks, cleaned my closets, sent notes of encouragement to friends who are homebound, grocery shopped for others, and this year my flower garden looks better than ever. There are many things that a person can do with the right attitude toward a situation that is basically out of everyone’s control.

We will get through this together. Educate yourself about the disease and what you can do to remain safe and how you can help your community. Better yet, turn off all the endless information and take a walk. Enjoy this beautiful spring and be grateful that we are coming together as a nation to fight this disease and that someday we will have a vaccine that will combat the deadly effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carol Nistler

Paola

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