Practicing Community Stewardship in Times of Crisis

A note from Sarah Suzuki, CEO of Chicago Compass Counseling.

Our office will be moving to remote-only services. We are not alone in this. As our individual daily routines grind to a halt, our collective is now forced to live with a “new normal.” In isolation, we grapple with loss and uncertainty. What will things look like, feel like, in 30 days? What will happen in the next 7 days? These anxieties, and the urgency of redefining our reality, can overwhelm our immediate coping capacities.

But one thing is certain – as time goes on, the shock of adjustment will give rise to the potential feeling of void, or absence. What is it we are meant to do? How can we be, and who are we, in this new reality? 

One of the core values of our group counseling practice is “Measure Community Stewardship.” In our society, we are used to measuring many things – especially time and money – but often fail to reflect on the extent to which we are contributing to our community. 

Today, we are being asked to provide local leadership. At home, within our workplaces, and as neighbors in our community – each of us must rise to the occasion of practicing leadership. The question we will ask ourselves not only today, but especially as time goes on, is this: To what extent are we serving members of our community?

Pandemics have a way of revealing that which is most unsustainable in our society. During the 1918 Spanish Influenza, we realized the hidden cost of war and wartime movement as young soldiers returned to their communities and spread the virus. During the Black Death plagues of the middle ages, our lack of scientific knowledge was revealed; the failure of mystical practices and questionable medical interventions led to unfathomable loss of Jewish life due to scapegoating and anti-Semitic genocide. 

In this moment, our obsession with individual comfort is being revealed. Our practice of failing to value all members of our community is being revealed. We are beginning to see the ways we have moved out of awareness of that which makes us human  – our connection to others.

We must ask ourselves to identify that which has become unsustainable, and, through local leadership, endeavor to correct those practices. We do not need to be individually wealthy in order to contribute. For people who can work from home, this means committing financial resources to help those who are out of work. For business owners, this means offering our expertise to other businesses to help them sustain themselves so their workers can get paid. As neighbors, it means sharing additional resources we may have acquired, that are no longer of the greatest use to us. As friends, this means checking in on those we love who have a tendency to isolate, who may struggle emotionally during this time. It means embracing the harsh realities of social distancing when we are young and healthy, knowing that those of us who are young and healthy present the greatest danger to those who are most vulnerable. 

We will first think of ourselves, as any crisis invites us to do. But as we look back on this time, we will be forced to reckon with the actions we took (or failed to take) to help members of our community: The more you have, the greater your responsibility to radically resource those who have less. 

Ask yourself how you want to remember yourself during this time, years from now. Will you look back and cringe? Or will you remember how you stepped up to be there for others? Perhaps you will remember how you shared more than you possibly could have imagined sharing before the onset of this pandemic.

It is easy for us to name our personal values. It is a greater challenge to practice them. We must live out our core values in times of crisis. As we grieve and move through this challenging time, remember that you will be measured by the actions you take, starting today. This is what it means to be heroic – to be tested in crisis, and to honor your values through your actions. You got this. SS

Note: The office of Chicago Compass Counseling, LLC will be closed beginning March 23, 2020. We will offer online services through video and telehealth. We will let you know when our facility has reopened. Reach out to our Intake Coordinator at (312) 715-8234 ext. 11 for any questions or concerns.

This article was republished on The Good Men Project.

Sarah Suzuki, AM, LCSW, CADC

Sarah Suzuki, AM, LCSW, CADC

Hi, I'm Sarah, and I'm a counselor who helps high-achieving men learn how to moderate their drinking. I currently offer counseling services and corporate training here at Chicago Compass Counseling. If you're interested, you can read more about me on my about page.