No one in the Morongo Basin has tested positive for the new coronavirus yet, but the effects of this international crisis are rippling through here just the same. Like an 8.0 earthquake elsewhere in Southern California, we feel the shocks even if we’re not at the epicenter.
And if there is one thing desert people know how to do, it’s prepare as best we can, endure the shaking, take care of ourselves and our neighbors, repair the damage and move on.
We can prepare, not panic.
Like any crisis, minor or major, the coronavirus pandemic gives people two choices. For one, we can succumb to panic, greed, fear and rage. We can hoard goods we don’t even need. We can be cruel and dismissive to people who are frightened or confused. We can sell snake oil and profit off of others’ tragedies.
Or there’s the second choice. We can be calm and responsible. We can stock up on what we need and make sure others have what they need to survive. We can be kind and patient to others. We can offer help where it is needed. We can follow medical professionals’ advice and take precautions to protect others.
Every day, we have the chance to make the choice to help ourselves and our community stay strong and well.
No, the coronavirus hasn’t reached the Morongo Basin yet (as far as we know), but its shocks are still reverberating here. People are losing wages as businesses shut down or reduce services; people who are older or have health problems are being isolated at home; and of course, the shelves are frequently bare at local stores.
But those of us who live in the desert know that shakeups are a part of life. We have endured in the past and done so with a spirit of togetherness and resilience that has always characterized the people who live here, from the Native Americans, to the miners, to the homesteaders, to all of us today.
Remember what happened after the Landers earthquake. People were afraid to go back into their homes. They didn’t have water or food. They couldn’t get in or out of the Morongo Basin. They didn’t know what would happen next.
But what happened in the hours that followed the quake? We pulled together. We organized and mobilized to help others — making strangers friends and ensuring everyone had what they needed.
It was one of the worst times for the Morongo Basin, but it was also when we showed the best of ourselves.
We can do it again today and every day. We can reaffirm that reputation of the desert dweller: Be resilient, be a good neighbor, endure and when it’s time, thrive.