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The other day I saw — from 10 feet away — a fellow resident of my retirement community. “John,” I said, “are you OK?” John (not his real name) looked terrible. “I’ve just got a case of the coronavirus blues,” he responded, “and day after day I’m just bored!” 

I must tell you that our community is usually so alive with activity nobody should be bored. I won’t go into the details, but now we are shut down and everything has been canceled — and I mean everything! If boredom is a symptom of the coronavirus blues, there must be a remedy. So “Dr.” Bayer came up with the following three prescriptions:

1. Be angry.

Donald Trump did not cause the virus, but when the nation looked to him for aggressive presidential leadership, it got the opposite. He first called the coronavirus “a hoax.” This blaspheme was echoed by “Medal of Honor” recipient Rush Limbaugh. Trump’s son even opined that the whole thing was a plot hatched by the Democrats aimed at hurting his father. 

The administrative unit, whose role was to prepare for such an emergency, quietly disappeared, and the president claimed to know nothing about its demise. Could the impending disaster have been mitigated? Had Trump taken it seriously and prepared for what is now a raging firestorm we may have avoided the worst. Why were we not ready? The blame starts with the occupant of the oval office.

As the virus infected hundreds of people and killed scores of others, Trump dismissed it as a rapidly passing inconvenience nobody should worry about. Instead of seeing it as a medical crisis, he appointed Vice President Pence to organize the response. Shaking hands with a collection of industry CEOs crowded around him, he suggested that the main problem was how it affected his roaring economy. 

While anger most often fails to solve anything, in this case legitimate fury turned to saving the nation by focusing on November’s election may be more than justified. Somebody must have recently gotten Trump’s attention, and he has changed course.

2. Get a schedule.

It is a simple matter in our retirement community to stay involved by relying on others to draft the agenda. All you need to do is copy a list of published events and opportunities others have posted. But what do you do now when you look at the published newsletter and see only one word: CANCELED? No groups, lectures, services, classes, meetings, seminars, games, concerts, service opportunities, etc. 

I had an easy out. For a year Wendy and I have been planning a monthlong South Pacific cruise to celebrate my 90th birthday. In addition to watching the sea, I had a daily routine sketched out. I had loaded my Kindle with 20 books I wanted to read. I had purchased a traveling set of art supplies, and I had determined to refresh my German, borrowing a half dozen books from a friend. I was ready to go!

And then: while I had to cancel our cruise, my agenda was easily transferred from the “Oosterdam” to our apartment. My home-based schedule depends only on me. What have you planned that doesn’t depend on someone else?

3. Do some good.

This third option will take you beyond your own needs. I am in the fortunate position of being part of an important social service agency, Uncommon Good, which has developed a way for us to reach out. Here is a quote from Nancy Mintie, our organization’s founder and executive director:

“I wanted to give you an update on how things are going here at Uncommon Good. We currently are offering child care for children whose schools have closed and whose parents must work. We also are helping parents who have lost their jobs to apply for unemployment insurance, though that of course is not available to families who lack documentation. Our farm program is overrun by people who are looking for an alternative to the supermarket. We continue to offer free food to our families. Our farmers are working overtime to meet the need.

“Many of our families have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus. Uncommon Good has set up an emergency fund for families who have become unemployed and who cannot pay their rent, utilities, or other necessities of life. … If you would like to help with this fund, you can donate on our website at https://uncommongood.org/donate.”

If you are suffering from the coronavirus blues, consider the above three prescriptions.

Charles Bayer

Charles Bayer is a somewhat retired theological professor and congregational pastor. 

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