We Are Not in the Same Boat

We Are Not in the Same Boat

The more I post resources for coping skillfully with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the more good people send good posts to me, often with more wisdom and perspective than I am capable of. My friend Carole forwarded this one; I honestly wish I knew the author.  Below, I do offer some of my own suggestions about broadening our perspective to recognize the many disparate ways people are living through this catastrophe, potential or for real.


I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa.

For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflection, of re-connection, easy in flip flops, with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial & family crisis.

For some that live alone they’re facing endless loneliness. While for others it is peace, rest & time with their mother, father, sons & daughters.

With the $600 weekly increase in unemployment some are bringing in more money to their households than they were working. Others are working more hours for less money due to pay cuts or loss in sales.

Some were concerned about getting a certain candy for Easter while others were concerned if there would be enough bread, milk and eggs for the weekend.

Some want to go back to work because they don’t qualify for unemployment and are running out of money. Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.

Some are home spending 2-3 hours/day helping their child with online schooling while others are spending 2-3 hours/day to educate their children on top of a 10-12 hour workday.

Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it. Others don’t believe this is a big deal.

Some have faith in God and expect miracles during this 2020. Others say the worst is yet to come.

So, friends, we are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.

Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, actually seeing.

We are all on different ships during this storm experiencing a very different journey.

-Unknown author

EXERCISE: Broadening Our Perspective

Broadening our perspective begins with even recognizing that we have one. That the conditioning of our circumstances and our histories give us each a slightly different slant on how we perceive and then respond to the same events. We could even be responding to the same event differently ourselves. As our circumstances continue to shift, our perspectives will shift.

Novelists and filmmakers, historians and editorial writers, college professors and spiritual teachers, invite us to consider different perspectives all the time.  Imagining the same event from different angles using different filters.

A simple suggestion to try, with many variations:

Imagine how a head of lettuce in your grocery store might be viewed by: you considering fixing a salad for dinner, the grocery store clerk unpacking dozens of heads of lettuce from the truck that delivered them out back, wondering how to stay sanitized and safe; the driver of the produce truck carrying lettuces from the farmers’ cooperative distributor, worrying if he’s bringing the virus home to his family; the field hand who harvested the lettuce but maybe can’t afford to buy a head of lettuce at the local grocery store. The grocery store clerk who checks you out and bags all of your groceries, not knowing what other customers might have touched that head of lettuce first, not knowing what other customers might already be ill but asymptomatic.

I don’t mean to tip us into catastrophic thinking, but simply to encourage us to use our imaginations to try to see other people’s point of view from their point of view, which gives us another perspective on our own.

And for a huge broadening of perspective along these lines, a fascinating exploration I’ve recommended before: The Velvet Rope Economy: How Inequality Became Big Business by Nelson Schwartz, business reporter for the New York Times. Published in early 2020, it investigates the differences in the boats of the very wealthy from everyone else, in medical care, in education, in housing, in travel, in sports, in entertainment, in every facet of American life. Eye-opening, sometimes heart-wrenching, always clear in the differences these differences make.