Husband’s sacrifice isn’t really helping

Pandemic ethics are a worthwhile conversation, profoundly so, but empathy alone won’t improve the lots of people suffering.

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May 22, 2020 - 2:33 PM

Dear Carolyn: My husband, “Joe,” and I are embarrassingly lucky: We’re used to working from home and not afraid for our jobs, have no family or dear friends we’re acutely anxious for and are doing our best to help neighbors. We differ only in how much each of us feels it’s okay to benefit from our luck.

Carolyn Hax

Local rules allow driving somewhere nice to then walk/cycle for exercise (with social distancing.). Joe says we shouldn’t do that, since others have no car or are confined to home. He was upset that I did a long, exercise-essential walk to the other side of town and bought ingredients not to be had nearer, so I could bake some treats. He doesn’t think we should buy stuff online for our at-home exercise and keeping-me-sane hobbies; he says they’re not essential, and we should make do without because others can’t afford such things and we put the delivery people at risk.

I know we already lived in a grotesquely unequal society, with lockdown imposing a different set of inequalities on top of that. Joe feels that if everyone can’t enjoy something, then we shouldn’t either. I can’t see what I’d be helping if I denied us such things, and we’re beginning to scratch at each other over it. How do we navigate this? — Lucky

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