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.

5 thoughts on “Encouraging Words

  1. Trump as of recent has made it a point to call this virus, the Chinese Virus as news circulated early this week that China is blaming American Military for this virus.

    Also, I’d like to add the wonderful steps some of my friends on Facebook have taken to help others in need during these difficult time. This is what one person Wrote:

    “If School Closures have you concerned about feeding your kids, contact me… We will do what we can to help, no questions asked. No credit deserved here, thanks to a friend for sharing this idea… It takes a village.”

    These are not wealthy people and they have school age kids. It’s been shared many times in this group. I just thought this was wonderful and wanted to share. The human spirit is alive and well.

  2. Dear Bob, how I would like to sit and talk after all these years, and all of the most insightful blogs you have posted and challenged us with. Pat and I now live in a senior community in Louisville, and we are basically “sheltering in place.” To help our spirits, I painted the word “Hope” on a large rock, placed it on a table with a placard saying, “If today you are feeling a little hopeless, look upon this hope stone or take one of these cards and know that we can hold HOPE for each other and for ourselves.” The cards for residents to pick up offer the same message, alongside a picture of a petunia growing out of concrete pavement. The next stage of this will call us who are well-cared for residents to hold hope for the struggling, hurting, and powerless. Thank you, Bob, for calling for words of encouragement for a hurting world. Earl Miller

  3. Bob. I work with Syrian refugees. Yesterday at a dental appointment where I had taken a mom and her three young children , I had a chance to talk with her 12 year old daughter while mom was in the exam room , as her son was being looked at. The young girl started talking about COVID 19. I asked her if she was worried or did she feel safe now that she was in Canada. She said the only time she ever was worried was when her mom sat on a chicken? A chicken I said? Yes. while walking from her home to Turkey, and to refuge from Idlib, they had to hide in a chicken coop to escape from the army. Mom sat on a chicken and they were discovered. With 3 small children they were not killed like other families had been. She was 6 when this happened. “No I’m not afraid” she said 😢

  4. I am leaving this comment at Bob’s urging. I sent this as a private note. I spent time working with Bob at Intersections. During that time I had the chance to do some study of income and wealth inequality. In particular, the worst inequality previously were right before WWI and right before WW II. Now it is worst than that which provokes the question What are we Right Before: So here is the less than encouraging words is sent to Bob:

    What are we right before, he said. We won’t see it coming.

    Trump and the Virus , equals… ? Sadly, I think we are about to enter that “before”. We haven’t seen the tip yet of the consequences. The global economic collapse might be so deep that we will all be unsure of the next meal. I am glad that Trump is using the words today — “we are at war, worst situation since Great Depression”. Etc. I doubt if he is the right person at the right time; indeed, just the opposite. Even if I think I am okay because my house is paid for and lots of money; including SS an annuity and an IRA. When the US Dollar is devalued because we can’t borrow then that money becomes almost useless.

    And yet there is no where to go and nor anything to really do. Hope my kids can prepare and survive. They will be resilient and have more options than we, the parents. I really feel for the laborer, the hourly folks, Even my daughter’s dental offices don’t pay once sick leave and vacation time is used by staff. I feel for her as she struggles with these moral issues

    What are we right before? It might just be here.

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