How Our Values are Hurting Us
Our cultural, spiritual and professional values are being tested as we undergo this public health crisis that is the COVID-19 global pandemic. As a culture, Americans are rule breakers. We value independence, freedom and individuality. Our nation was founded on the values of religious freedom by founders who had Christian identities. The freedom to practice any religion and the freedom to assemble are deeply ingrained in our individual and collective psyche. Our professional values vary; however for health professionals by and large, our ethical principles are based on moral principles. The chief among those being “do no harm.” In the counseling profession beyond doing no harm we are also value promoting what is for the good of the people we are serving.
Protecting One Another
Generally speaking, our values are aspirational while they are also grounded in day to day practice. The values I listed above and many more shape our day to day lives. It shapes our work and our expectations. Right now much of what we need to do as a people to get a handle on the COVID-19 virus is to physically and socially distance. We must also mobilize systems for the greater good. In effect, we need to put the needs of the collective whole ahead of the individual. We have to share resources. We must be considerate to others. We must protect one another. We must protect our loved ones and people that we do not know. Because we are independent individuals who value our personal freedom, we don’t take well to limits. Many of us can hardly fathom not doing all of the things we want to do, the way that we want to do them, when we want to do them. Even if that means saving our lives and the lives of our loved ones and neighbors. Somehow our implied value is that life is not worth living if there are any restrictions imposed on it. Even though those restrictions are temporary. Our “now” culture does not support caution, safety and patience. We must shift from a “me” culture to a “we” culture.
It is our natural inclination as human beings to gather. We gather to celebrate, to worship, to work, to mourn, to create, to share….right now all of the reasons we gather are needed. However we must be mindful and resist the desire to do so. We must trust that our relationships and faith and connectedness will not go away simply because we have a period of weeks or months wherein we do not meet in person. While tradition and routine bring us comfort we must adapt and develop some new routines and ways of being at least temporarily. We must accept the fact that this is not just going to go away. We must work together and in our own individual and systemic ways to slow down this virus and build up our resources to combat it.
Which is Worse?
In our professional lives in almost every field of work we are facing ethical dilemmas. We are also confronted with the inequities in our society. The fact that so many of us have fragile resources and inadequate pay, under-employment and lack of access to health care. People in America were food insecure prior to this pandemic. Now they are more food and resource insecure. Health and medical professionals and other workers, including those working in our nation’s supply chain, are working in dangerous conditions without adequate resources to protect themselves and others. There are many of them having to make impossible choices. A decision tree of “What’s worse….this or that?” Many are having to decide “Do I go to this essential job” and risk my well-being or “do I stop working and risk my resources?” Others are asking is it ethical to serve my clients/patients via telehealth? What if it does not align with the recommendations for who is well-suited for telemental health? What should I prioritize? For me it is not even a question. I would want my health care provider to value my life above all else. Value my life so that you might be able to serve me in the future. Take care of yourself so that we might continue again in some way shape or form. If we dare to intervene in suicide, how can we not intervene as it relates to the COVID-19 virus?
Copyright © 2020 Ruby Blow. All rights reserved.