These are difficult times. Thousands in the US and worldwide have been infected with the coronavirus, and many are critically ill. Our hearts go out to them. Thousands more are plagued by anxiety. They are in our prayers.
What does this virus mean for long-term changes in the way we work, socialize and build community? How can we prepare for the future when, as experts tell us repeatedly, the true number of cases becomes evident and our hospitals and health care facilities will be overrun?
The swiftness of this pandemic has been breathtaking. In my post on February 26 (just three weeks ago!), I stated, “to date, there have been more than 81,000 reported cases of coronavirus worldwide, with more than 2,700 deaths.” Those numbers, as of this writing, have escalated to more than 208,000 cases with more than 8,300 deaths. In the US, cases have risen to more than 7,500 cases with 117 deaths.
We can–and should–lament the lack of leadership from the White House and any personal empathy expressed by the President. As recently as Wednesday morning, he has insisted on referring to Covid-19 as the “Chinese Virus.” Why would he do that!?
To my knowledge, Donald Trump has yet to recognize or offer any expression of condolences to those who have been infected by the coronavirus. If I am wrong about this, I ask you, dear readers, to correct me. Please provide specifics and I will communicate them in future posts along with my apology to the President.
This said, in the midst of this unprecedented crisis, it is important to find words of comfort and examples of grace and resilience so that, as we hunker down, we can find sources of inspiration to counterbalance the crushing feelings of being overwhelmed that we are all experiencing.
In this light, I offer the following three items that have come to me in response to my posts: First, from my daughter Kierra, who pivots from lamenting the lack of federal leadership to an affirmation of local authorities: “Right now, we are suffering from a total breakdown in leadership at the national level, but there are still leaders among us. Hopefully those voices will be able to cut through the noise and help us get through this with dignity and grace. With increased love and empathy for our neighbors, and with a new perspective on our shared humanity and vulnerability. And then, hopefully, we will be well enough, as a nation to turnout in November and elect someone that would never think to shut down the White House pandemic office.”
My West Coast colleague and friend Rev. Art Cribbs offered this recent experience as a reminder of what each of us we can do: “While traveling this week to Tennessee, I was most impressed by the kindness and courtesy displayed in airports and aboard airplanes by passengers and crews. Perhaps I was more in tune with how people conducted themselves because of the heightened awareness of the coronavirus.
“My flights east on Sunday and return flights on Monday were experiences of public politeness, patience, and good behavior…even as the rides were laced with bumps and turbulence across America.
“The Biblical instruction to ‘give thanks in all things’ takes on more significance when its practice results in keen awareness of mindful behavior and benefits.
“This is a very good time to spread kindness like a virus…and may more people become infected.”
And finally, I received this re-post from my friend Rajee Aerie, quoting Kitty O’Meara whose words have gone viral. “And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”
Now it is your turn. Let’s launch a conversation. What are words of inspiration that you’d like to share? What are experiences that you have had in recent days that affirm goodness and generosity in the human soul? Each of us can share important thoughts to spark resilience, kindness and hope for humankind.
And, in the meantime, heed the words of the health professionals. Wash your hands. Limit your contacts with others. Pray. Take special care of seniors and those with underlying health problems. If you learn about an idea that might be helpful if more widely shared, feel free to begin that sharing here. Be kind. Be patient. Be gracious. Stay safe.