Prior to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic our political climate was spewing constant conflict, divisive quarreling, insensitive bickering, and displaying an empathy deficit unparalleled in modern history. Whole nations were in conflict as we initiated a tariff war with China, Britain turned its back on the European Union, Russia continued to threaten the Ukraine and U.S. politicians began erecting a wall between us and Mexico, our closest neighbor. COVID-19
Then, this corona virus pandemic begins to roll across the world. Suddenly, we are shuttered in our homes; told not to come out. The entire developed world’s everyday activity grinds to a halt. Everyone is scared because now we are physically separated as well as mentally separated. What will happen to civilization? What will happen to me?
The First Buds of Spring
If you look carefully, you will see the first buds of spring. Little acts of kindness are beginning to bloom where only adversity and anger prevailed. People are coming together to sing on balconies in Italy, others are setting up groups to offer support to the elderly or vulnerable - like collecting groceries or calling them for a chat. We have heard stories of people having virtual movie nights and creating choreographed dances over video chat to share with the world. There is an impulse to stop fighting and share dawning on the world.
1. Jen Muzia, the executive director of the Ballard Food Bank in Seattle tells this story: "I am seeing how people come together in time of crisis and how people really take care of one another, how people are calling us, and asking how they can help - you know, can they come volunteer? What does the food bank need? - all these types of questions where people see the need in the community and want to make a difference…we really see people stepping up. That part gives me hope for how we can all come together and take the right steps to take care of one another."
2. Or Andrew Cuomo’s call for medical volunteers in New York resulting in an outpouring of 60,000 retired medical professionals offering to help. 60,000! Professionals who are well aware of the danger.
3. And more than half a million people responded to the UK government's call to become a volunteer for the National Health Service (NHS), the country's Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said Thursday. The government was hoping to get 250,000 people to sign up.
4. A businessman from Michigan was eating at Aunt Chilada’s restaurant in Tempe, Arizona Thursday, when he began hearing from employees that the restaurant would soon have to close its dining section. When the man was about to leave, he asked bartender Jeff Moore how many people were working this evening. Moore told the man that ten employees were working. "What that customer did next caught everyone off guard. He handed me a stack of ten $100 bills and told me to distribute it among the staff."
5. As the Girl Scouts cookie selling season comes to an abrupt end due to COVID-19, Girl Scouts are donating the rest of their cookies to healthcare workers and first responders.
6. Diana Berent, 45, a Long Island mother now confined to her home fighting for her life against the corona virus, tells this story: "Some of the highest and lowest moments of my life were graced with the comfort of hearing the cantor at my synagogue sing her beautiful and soulful rendition of “Hallelujah.” Knowing that, Cantor Franco recorded herself singing my favorite song and sent it to me so I could listen to it on repeat, which I have. I listen to it over and over again, and it brings me peace every time.”
7. With hospitals filling up, Samaritan's Purse, a Christian global relief agency, yesterday set up a 68-bed "respiratory focused field hospital" on Central Park's East Meadow lawn, near Mount Sinai Hospital.
8. Chris Ware draws the cover story for The New Yorker. His daughter was his first spring bud: "As a procrastination tactic, I sometimes ask my fifteen-year-old daughter what the comic strip or drawing I’m working on should be about ... So, while sketching the cover of this Health Issue, I asked her. She said, 'Make sure it's about how most doctors have children and families of their own’.”
Kindness occupies a place in everyone’s heart. Yes, we fight. But in the end, we are all in this life together and, somewhere down deep, we know it.