It’s always a challenge to select what resonates the most with me from Governor Cuomo’s seven days of morning briefings. But this week, his words yesterday and today spoke loudly and made the decision easy.
May 16: It’s not about politics
Let’s put the politics aside. If there’s ever a moment in this country, where it’s not about politics, this is the moment. For Senators to be talking about, I’m not going to bail out blue states because the blue states have more coronavirus cases, shame on you. To look at the death toll in this nation and say, I want to count how many people passed away by their political party, and I’m more interested in states where Republicans live than where Democrats live.
We are Americans. That’s what comes first, and in a time of crisis we’ve always been Americans, and the great leaders, Democrats and Republican, have always said that. Go back and look at the great Republicans, go back and look at the great Democrats, and see how they operated. And try to be great in this moment, Senator and Congressperson.
And if you don’t want to look to former politicians, go back to the good book, which said the same thing that the great politicians said. Mark 3:25—If a house is divided against itself, the house cannot stand.
Read the good book and do what’s right for the American people. And let’s be together: tough, smart, united, disciplined, and loving.
May 17: How are you, really?
Today is Day 78. Is 78 days a long time or a short time? You can argue both. When you’ve shut down everything and you’ve gone through the trauma that we’ve gone through, 78 days is a long time.
Don’t underestimate the trauma that this has created for people. Out of the blue comes this virus, something we’ve never seen before—it’s been incredibly anxiety-producing, traumatic, disturbing, and we’ve felt and seen all along evidence that this is creating a significant mental health challenge for people.
The number of Americans that are reporting serious mental distress: up to 38%—doesn’t even discriminate by age, right, 18 to 44, it’s a multiple of what it’s ever been. And this is something that I think deserves more attention than it has gotten.
How are you? is a simple question that we ask. The Mental Health Coalition is working on a project and they have a website: How are you, really? And they ask people to answer that question and share their feelings and their thoughts. But not just, How are you? Oh, I’m doing fine, thank you. How are you? I’m okay. How are you? You know, pretty much all right. Getting by. Yeah. Forget that answer.
How are you, really? means, Let’s get to a different depth in the question and different depth in the answer. How are you, really? You can’t be fine. Right? We’re going through hell. How are you when you’re going through hell? Not good. I’m not good. I’m anxious. I’m stressed. I’m nervous. I’m afraid. I’m living a science fiction movie—I’m afraid. That’s how I am.
We’re not comfortable talking about that, right? That’s not the normal social back and forth. The “how are you doing” question is almost a throwaway: How are you doing? The expected response is “Fine.” How are you doing? Fine, good. How are you doing, really? and let’s talk about it and let’s be aware of it.
I’m trying, with my family. On the telephone, the ones I have in person: How you doing—really? Let’s talk about this. I want you to understand how I feel and the stress I feel, and how are you doing, really? It sounds simple but I think it can be very constructive individually, I know it’s been helpful for me.
This is nothing to be ashamed of, ever in life, but especially now. Of course there’s going to be mental health issues, and of course people are going to have stress that they need to work through and anxieties that they need to work through. Nothing to be ashamed of. Ever, but especially now.