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On Monday night, I went to the movies. I bought my ticket online and about an hour later, I received an email informing me that the theater would be closing down indefinitely starting the next day.

When I arrived at the theater, it was mostly empty. As I spoke to the young woman at the concession stand, I learned she and her co-workers had received an email that afternoon, too. It told them the theater would be closing down for at least two months. She was going to be out of a job and did not know what type of work, if any, should would be able to find in the interim.

On St. Patrick’s Day, oddly somber without celebrations everywhere, I went to a neighborhood restaurant for an earlier dinner. There were only a handful of customers in the restaurant. I was thankful for the opportunity to get out of the house, if only for an hour or so. I tried to tip my server well, knowing busy was down. I wondered how much longer the restaurant would remain open as a sit-down establishment.

On Wednesday morning, I headed downtown earlier in the morning hoping to get a haircut from my longtime barber. A sign on the front door informed me the store had closed for the week. Luckily, my backup choice was still open. As I walked in the door, there were only two stylists working where normally there would be anywhere from five to 10. I received my haircut, but the customary shampoo was not an option because of safety concerns.

As I checked out, they joked I should get some shampoo or other products to last me a month. They did not know how much longer they would remain open.

I attempted to find a local coffeeshop that was not only open but was allowing patrons to sit and work as I planned to do with a stack of papers and other assignments to grade. No luck. One of my preferred shops was closed. Others were open for carryout only.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has greatly changed our day-to-day lifestyle.

The high school and college I work for have transitioned to online classes with some schools deciding to go fully online for the rest of the spring semester. As someone who teaches online, this has not been a difficult transition for me. For many of my colleagues, this is a whole new world of teaching and interaction with students.

My daughter is at home for the rest of her spring semester. I sympathize with parents who are attempting to balance their work obligations with unexpected child care duty. Social distancing is far from painless.

Nevertheless, I am confident this too will pass. Yes, “man is a political animal,” according to Aristotle. Translated to a 21st century perspective, this means we are social creatures. We like living among others in a polis (city-state).

We as a society must remember what is important, what is truly essential to our lives. This was the argument from the Stoic philosophers like Seneca who claimed the Stoic carried all he needed to live within himself.

While this may be true, we must not lose sight of our responsibility to those around us, especially those who are the neediest among us.

Nicolas Shump is a longtime educator and writer in northeast Kansas. He can be reached at