"My wife got [a print of a boy on a horse asking, 'What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?' to which the horse replies, 'Help'] for my birthday, and of all the things that we have..."

"... it’s the thing that I cherish quite a bit. It’s the only thing I pass when I leave my bedroom every day when I’m home. And it’s a reminder that strength is not necessarily being physically strong, but it’s asking for help, to be vulnerable, to be the person that I’m not supposed to be, right? And that’s not necessarily a bad thing."

Item #2 on a list of 10 "essential" things in "David Chang Loves Beethoven’s Ninth (but Won’t Finish ‘Infinite Jest’)/The chef, author and television personality, whose second season of 'Ugly Delicious' just arrived on Netflix, also puts a baby monitor, the Bhagavad Gita and 'Gattaca' on his list of essentials" (NYT).

I've been thinking, in this time of forced seclusion, about what it means to help. You can't be helping in person — unless you have a special medical or other relevant in-person service to provide. And most of us can help by just withdrawing and staying out of (literal) touch in the way that might, in normal times, seem churlish or cold. But beyond the negative help of not becoming part of the problem — not spreading the disease or becoming a consumer of medical resources — you can help. You can help by preserving and sharing whatever good thoughts you have that will make it easier for other people to accept and even to prosper within their seclusion.

I'm trying to do that, and I'm also going to push back when I see people who are not helping. I'm not shunning negativity altogether, but I'm trying to use a light touch. You can assume that when I say something like "Is Fox News helping?" (in the comments thread to yesterday's post about Trish Regan), I mean serious criticism of them for stirring up ridiculous unhelpful resistance to the needed social distancing. Ousting Trish Regan for her really stupid, flat-footed nonsense is the least they could do, and I suspect they only did it because it wasn't helpful to them. But I'd say the only reason Regan could be as stupid as she was is that it wasn't that far out of line with the general environment at Fox.

And that's not to say that the other cable news networks are helping. They seem to be trying to keep hating Trump, using any material he gives them, and every day, there's always something. I want them to make common cause with him and help. It's more important than their ratings and it's more important than who wins the next election. It's time to help.

But back to David Chang and the horse that bravely said "Help." Chang likes the idea of strength in terms of vulnerability — of seeing yourself as the one who needs help. I'm pondering how that balances with what I've been thinking about help: We need to be thinking how can I help. It's not inconsistent. Wondering how you can help is different from going about intending to help. What makes you think you're a fountain of help? Your "help" may have negative value. Seeing yourself as the one who needs help is better than imagining yourself as a giver of help when you are not helping.

First, help yourself. That's the #1 form that your helping can take. Next, quit "helping" with help that is not helpful! Use your time of forced seclusion to contemplate what it means to help others. Do you need some help with that?

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