I have started and stopped many columns this week.

What do you focus on amid a massive public health crisis? Do I make the 7 millionth joke about toilet-paper hoarding?

Do I shake my fist and rant about optics, fake COVID-19 remedies, big business bailouts and biased media? What can I really contribute to this conversation?

And then it occurred to me. The people with the best insights are the ones who are most often overlooked: members of the public. And so I invited my Facebook friends to share what they have learned from the coronavirus outbreak.

Their responses ran the gamut from outraged and disturbing to wise and inspiring. Here’s a sample.

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  • I love staying home and isolating, until someone tells me I should stay home and isolate.
  • Facts, not fear, and stock up on toilet paper and bread.
  • That when I list my hobbies, I should include "Touching my face," because I have realized I spend about 98 percent of my time doing that.
  • That if I’m saying I’m taking a short nap, don’t plan on seeing me for another two hours.
  • I used Facebook Messenger’s video chat feature to talk to a lifelong friend in California, whom I have not seen in about 3 years. It was oddly comforting.
  • For all we’ve learned and advanced, we have a way to go yet.
  • That we need to appreciate teachers more.
  • That I wish I lived closer to my family.
  • That I need to listen to my gut rather than what other people tell me. And that my dogs prefer an at-home dog mom!
  • Follow medical and public health officials, not the office of POTUS.
  • We are all human and vulnerable to disease. The word pandemic has more relevance in my life. Thankful to God for health that I have.
  • I learned that my decision to return to nursing came at a very strange time.
  • How to host and teach fitness and yoga via a Zoom meeting. That grocery store clerks are heroes. Not learned, but reminded that nature really is in charge.
  • Everyone thinks they’ve already had it, at least once, this year.
  • We are all connected and we need to care about each other. Our future depends on it. I see people reaching out to others more now online, since we can’t physically meet for lunch or engage in other social gatherings. I’m seeing more expressions of caring, more compassion and kindness.
  • My faith is stronger than I thought.
  • I live in a small town and now people are hoarding bread and eggs! These people should think of others, especially children who are also quarantined. So, so sad! People reveal who they really are, in awesome ways and in some cases … not awesome. But let’s focus on the awesome people.
  • Until yesterday teens almost to age 50 were a very low risk group. After the media highlighted spring break in Florida, it is the highest risk group.
  • That my God is bigger than any virus. Instead of all the greed and anger in some people, let’s replace it with love and caring. Help the ones who need help and pray for everyone.
  • I may be able to train my husband to leave the toilet seat down yet!
  • Crisis brings out the best and the worst in people — leaders and the average American.
  • I’m not cut out for a desk job, quarantined.
  • I’ve found I might have it. I’ve learned how to use a Google voice to generate a phone number so students can call me using a number that goes directly to my phone without (them) having my personal number. I also learned I am not a freak for loving to just hang out and do nothing!
  • Sometimes it’s nice to spend four hours in the kitchen listening to music and making coq au vin.
  • I’m learning how little control I really have over things. It’s oddly liberating.
  • I’ve seen people’s true colors.
  • That we have to trust professionals who know waaay more than us. And that life still is pretty dang sweet.
  • That one man’s social isolating is another man’s preferred way of life.
  • Wash your hands and remember clean cheeks are happy cheeks.
  • How small we are in the grand scheme of things.
  • Toilet paper is the new national currency.
  • How truly selfish and self-centered some people are. Total disregard for public safety. Sad.
  • How unprepared our poor country is to handle an emergency! We have to listen to the doctors and other experts and hope they are right!
  • I’ve had ups and downs, but so far today, I’m feeling calmer and happier than I was before we started preparing and working from home. I didn’t realize how much of my daily life wasn’t working for me.
  • I have one room that when this settles down will become the TP storage room!
  • That the country is getting dumber with age.
  • That I miss being home. Need to work less.
  • That this country after years of outsourcing everything from our toys to phones to medical equipment … is totally unprepared for any real crisis. Also, that the corporations will be the first to belly up to the trough to get the free pickings while the people will suffer, again. On the plus side, I have seen people be much nicer to each other. That can’t be overrated. Take care, all.
  • Think about what my grandparents said about the Depression, having to deal with rationing stamps for food, tires, gasoline. Food lines. We have it good compared to them. We have cable, internet, cellphones, food in the pantry. Remember my Dad talking about hunting for a squirrel to eat for supper, they would take spoiled or bruised vegetables and potatoes to make a stew with the grey squirrel.
  • My husband’s nickname “Hyper Harry” is spot-on.
  • I am powerless over this virus but not helpless. I have learned ways to take care of myself mentally, physically and spiritually. This too will pass. Grateful for recovery.

ARCHIVE: Read more of Tammy Swift's columns

Readers can reach columnist Tammy Swift at tswiftsletten@gmail.com.

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