Getting Used to Peace During COVID-19: Advice from a Disabled Person

With COVID-19 spreading throughout the United States, many people, rightly, are practicing social distancing. If you are staying at home for any length of time, you may get bored. Many people with disabilities, such as myself, are already shut-ins. I can tell you that, over the 10 year period that I’ve been disabled, the hardest thing to get used to is peace.

I was a workaholic previously and kept very busy. Working is ingrained in Americans. It has taken me these past 10 years to get used to not being busy all the time.

Your situation is going to be different than mine. Your situation is temporary. Mine may be lifelong. But let me tell you, the sooner you get used to peace, the happier you’ll be.

Henry David Thoreau noted that people are busy, but they are usually busy doing mundane and unimportant things. His goal was to live purposefully, with intent, and do things that were important.

We can learn from Thoreau during the COVID-19 pandemic. No doubt, Thoreau had to get used to silence and, most of all, peace.

I’m not saying it will be easy. We are, after all, dealing with a global pandemic with potential economic consequences. But the sooner you get comfortable with not doing things that are unimportant, the more relaxed and happier you’ll be.

This doesn’t mean you can’t watch Netflix or play board games. It means there may be silences in your life right now and you’ll have to get used to them.

I wish everyone well during this time. And I hope other people, disabled or otherwise, offer advice to everyone about how to get through this.

Vote for the Luckiest

Back when I was in graduate school, I was an RA for the book Reading Bernard Williams. During that time, I edited a paper by Martha Nussbaum called “The Women of Trachis.” In that paper, Nussbaum discusses political luck. She notes that there’s luck and then there’s luck. What she means by that is that there are some things out of our control and some things within our control when it comes to politics and our well-being. Some things, like (currently) whether one gets certain cancers, is out of one’s control. Other things, like how much women get paid versus how much men get paid, are within our control. Nussbaum implies that the goal of politics is to maximize good outcomes as much as we can.

Given all this, I have advice for those in the United States who have not voted yet: Vote for the luckiest.

Don’t vote based on looks, personality, or the rumored character of a candidate’s supporters. Instead, look at each candidate’s policies and make your choice based on who is more likely to get good outcomes for Americans. This, following Nussbaum, is the goal of politics.

Currently, there are many things the government can do and can do better, in all likelihood, than the market. Think about affordable housing, the minimum wage or health care.

Cast your vote based on who would produce the best outcomes for Americans.