Keith Anderson is the director of news for APG of East Central Minnesota. Reach him at 


Panic and self-preservation are natural reactions when our environment is disrupted with something unusual or disturbing, and perhaps more so in a society that is built on the concept of competition in so many areas of our lives.

It’s easy to get lost in the race when so much of what we do is focused on ourselves or our immediate families. There is a lot of pressure to meet the demands of providing a home, food, clothing and safety for our loved ones.

But the term “society” has certainly been much more important throughout history than simply identifying a set of guidelines that help define a structured way of life. The word “society” is from the Latin “societas,” meaning a “comrade, friend or ally.” It was used to describe a bond or interaction between parties that are friendly or at least civil.

A comrade, friend or ally—meaning those people we would go out of our way to take care of when they need us most.

Yesterday the toilet paper aisle at Target was ravaged to the steel bones. Bottled water at other big box stores was being gobbled up in quantities that boggles sensibilities.

It is the panic, the nervous behavior that we are all prone to when something like coronavirus comes along.

But it is not productive and certainly not part of what defines a healthy society.

This is not the apocalypse. There are no zombies coming to steal our food, water or toilet paper.

On an individual basis what would be most concerning is having enough supplies to get through a quarantine period should that happen. Certainly, for most of us, it does not require four mega-packs of 24-count toilet paper to weather a 14-day quarantine.

But fear is a powerful emotion and sometimes it forces us to make irrational decisions.

Still, it’s hard not to be worried as we watch the stock market plummet, as hundreds of cancellations of our favorite sporting events take place and nations like Italy go into full lockdown as more than 1,000 people have died from the coronavirus and 15,000 have been infected.

The United States is just now on the front end of the infection, but how we respond to the measures being suggested by the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health will dictate how quickly we contain it and ultimately treat those infected by it.

Now is not the time to adopt a self-preservation mentality. Now is the time to make sure the elderly person living next door is not racked in fear, and that your co-workers are not viewed as potential carriers, but as friends and colleagues who may need to hear your words of support and calm.

It is not the time for daily trips to the grocery store to purchase as many canned and dry goods as you can stuff into your pantry or bunker to weather months-long isolation.

This is a time to communicate with each other. A period to make sure our neighbors, our friends and even people we don’t know are aware that this will take a community effort to solve, but by working together, not alone, we will be successful.

The unknown faces you encounter every day as you drive to work, shop at the grocery store or briefly see while walking through a mall are the brothers, sisters, children, parents or grandparents of somebody. They are uniquely tied to and loved by somebody. They are not a faceless opponent in this scramble to see who can stockpile the most stuff.

We are all Minnesotans and Americans. We need each other. We care for each other. We respect each other.

Let’s make sure our society embraces the idea of civility and that we are all being responsible to each other and how we respond to this crisis.

How do you want to be remembered? As the person who successfully bunkered enough food and water to last until fall or the person who helped others in this time of need?

Keith Anderson is the director of news for APG of East Central Minnesota.

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