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Patience and Fortitude

Originally published in the Ketchikan Daily News, April 2020; written by Pat Tully

Two stone lions stand guard outside the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan. In the 1930s, New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia named them Patience and Fortitude, for the qualities New Yorkers would need to get through the Great Depression.

Almost a century later, we again need a good deal of patience and fortitude to get through this pandemic.

We need patience because our lives have changed dramatically in response to the pandemic, and things will not be getting back to normal any time soon. We no longer commute to work, visit friends and extended family, or go to restaurants, bars, concerts or parties. Instead we stay home, wash our hands, keep things disinfected, and stay at least 6 feet away from the few people we encounter on our brief forays outside. We do all this in order to stop the spread of COVID-19, an extremely contagious virus that is dangerous for our elders and those with chronic health conditions.

What we are doing is working—so far. As of this writing (April 8) there have been no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ketchikan for a week. But this is not a time to let down our guard. Getting back to normal too soon risks the virus reappearing in the community and causing grave illness and death. We need to be patient and keep doing what we have been doing to stop the transmission of COVID-19.

To get through this pandemic we need fortitude as well as patience. We need fortitude to deal with the many disruptions this has caused in our relationships, our finances and our way of life. We need fortitude as well to face the limits of our technology, for while connecting via phone or the internet is a wonderful thing, it is not the same as being with people in person--working, celebrating, and grieving with them. I so miss being with people!

In addition to patience and fortitude, we need compassion. It is easy, since we are understandably irritated about a lot these days, to get angry with one another. “Why is my neighbor going out when we are all supposed to be at home?” “Why is that person buying twenty-four rolls of toilet paper?” The fear and uncertainty caused by COVID-19 is a test of our compassion and fellow feeling. The fact is that we are all in this together, and we need to be kind and understanding with each other. This is what I love about Ketchikan—the strength of our community and how much we care for one another.

Here’s to Patience, Fortitude and Compassion—three qualities we have a lot of in Ketchikan and that will see us through!

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