We are facing uncertain times. As I write this blog post we are two weeks into “Shelter in Place” and “Social Distancing” due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus. This global pandemic is hitting all aspects of society worldwide. With long-term health and economic impacts, people are scared.
This is reaching people at the most personal levels. Worry about the disease and what happens if one get COVID-19 (or their family members) has hit home for everyone. Then there is the financial issues. The economy is being hit hard and many people are seeing layoffs and furloughs from their jobs. Too many people are not prepared for this, especially because of the sudden hit and record numbers of job loss in just two weeks.
My career is based on speaking at event. The meetings industry was hit first (although only two or three weeks earlier than the rest of the world). All of my work and potential work for the spring vanished in a matter of days. My wife also works in the arena of meetings as an event planner and association administrator for an business organization. Her hours have dropped by half. As a family we are not prepared to handle this.
I am scrappy. While I do not have deep pockets, I can figure out ways to keep my family fed and when the economy comes back (and it always does), I will find ways to pay off any debt that comes my way. But this is not anything I had planned for at this level. I feel powerless on some days. Scared on the rest.
Many have no safety net at all. I am talking to friends who have no idea what to do. After two weeks they feel like the sky is falling right on top of them. I am trying hard to offer an ear, and not solutions. I clearly have no answers and am being impacted myself. I just do not want people to feel alone or that there is not long-term solutions. I realize we are all going to have pain.
Yet I keep seeing people who have made smart financial choices, and had high levels of success, who are showing no compassion and talking about their money. It seems to be common that people with cash do not understand the overwhelming problems others face. Most are talking about the large sums they lost in the stock market. It appears to be a badge of honor to drop dollar amounts of their stock portfolios. Others are saying things like “this is why you save” and other advice that has not help to the people currently in need. I have even heard jokes about the plight of the economy. Some offer advice that makes no sense to people without a large net worth. Being insensitive can hurt. People are fast to see insensitivity when it touches them, but they throw around pretty insensitive comments when they do not relate to the other side.
This is a common problem in society in any situation, we only see the world through our own point of view.
If you are wealthy, now is not the time to chat about your vacation homes, or other symbols of wealth. Worldwide there will be major financial ramifications for the average person and small business owners. I compliment and admire those who have grown wealth. I aspire to do better in my own financial path over the next 15 – 20 years. But I am trying to learn from this situation that I need to have more compassion for those facing different challenges (financially or otherwise) from me.
I tend to not get offended too quickly by things others say. My dad told me once “Be slow to anger, and fast to forgive”. I try to live this way, so when people say insensitive things I am slow to take it personally and try hard not to make a level 3 issue into a level 10. But lately I have been hearing lots of comments that made me write this post.