Updated: Nov 19, 2020
What a whirlwind of a couple weeks it has been.
We can all agree that we, as a community, as a country and as a whole society, are forever changed by the turn of events as a result of this virus.
We keep reading about the possible biochemical warfare, the incompetence of our political leaders, the lack of readiness of our healthcare system to deal with what has been happening.
Friends tell me that they are increasingly afraid of looting and the need to prepare for complete lack of civility. There are ammunition stores that have lines longer than Costco, people truly afraid for the aftermath of mess.
I think we are all now relating to Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion more than ever. Personally, for me, the real-life events of the past few weeks have been much better directed, more detailed, and, well, frankly, much more deeply felt.
I have been thinking about the days and weeks post September 11th. At the time I worked three blocks away from the world trade center and watched as the buildings came crumbing down, as the shell of people walked like ghosts the streets of NY, as the phones stopped working and instantaneously, we knew that life as we knew it was over. The world was divided into two: before 9/11 and after. For weeks and months after, the terrible smell of metal, fire, and death permeated downtown Manhattan and for as long as I live, I will never forget that stench. I will never forget the uncertainty that washed over us as NY’ers.
Was that worse or is this?
I, like many of you, am an immigrant. I lived in Iran during the terrible Iran and Iraq war, as we packed our bags and pillows and remained underground in underground parking garages to ride out the night that was filled with sounds of bombs that came raining down on our heads. I lived in a time that school was canceled due to war and I never finished 4th grade, the grade that my son is in now. That may forever explain why I am so terrible in math! To this day when I hear the test sirens that at times are sounded on the radio or television, I am brought back to the late nights that my parents woke us up and rushed us down to creep beneath a staircase and brace for loud crash of the bombs, each time the worlds around us shaking. As we all said “Shema” from the depth of our hearts, the loud drop of bombs shook everything around us, and hoped and prayed that everyone we knew was safe and unharmed.
I grew up being rationed with government issued coupons for sugar and the power cut off, because the country’s resourced were directed towards the never-ending war efforts.
So which of this experiences has affected me the most?
I am not sure. What I know for sure is that each of these experiences has shaped the person who I have become today. Each of these experiences has shown me that nothing in life is a given and life is so very very fragile.
I hope that we can all look at these past few weeks, and we are still in the thick of things, and know that this too shall pass. That we can come out of this stronger, more compassionate people. That no matter how bad things are, there are shining stars that step forward and reach out and pull the rest of us forward.
There were countless volunteers from across the country that stepped up to help New Yorkers after September 1th. Their heroism and selflessness left New Yorker's in awe and made us realize that we were not in it alone.
The countless phone calls and shelters and donations that people made to one another during the Iran-Iraq war truly sustained so many in the community.
And these past couple of weeks, I have been in awe of community organizers, who have come together to offer and delivery food to those who have been homebound. Children who are writing letters to old holocaust survivors who are stuck at home, and the first responders, doctors, nurses, truck drivers, grocery clerks who are truly putting their lives at risk so the rest of us can be home, safe and healthy.
If there is anything that I have learned these past few weeks is that, as Ann Frank said: “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart."
We will get thorught this. Together.