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It Doesn’t Have To Take A Pandemic For Us To Care.

Another hour. Another nap. Another Zoom call. Another briefing. Another day of trying not to worry. Another day…waiting.

In Kentucky, we are “Healthy at Home” under the direction of Governor Andy Beshear. Some states have called it “Shelter in Place.” Whatever it is called, we are tasked with limiting our in-person social interactions and staying at home to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus. Staying indoors is something as an introvert I find relatively easy; however, what isn’t easy is watching the sadness, uncertainty, worry, and death all around this world on every news station.

I spend my time online trying to find goodness in this moment of chaos. And it is there—moments of love and compassion.

Yesterday I was online and came across a post by Rex Chapman. (If you are on Twitter, please follow him. Chapman has managed to make his virtual space one of encouragement, and it is certainly needed in this time.) Chapman posted a video of a neighborhood in the UK all singing Happy Birthday from their homes to an 8-year-old girl named Sophie, whose birthday party was canceled. The neighborhood singing made Sophie cry and watching the video, and I, too, was brought to tears.

This virus has shown us the goodness of many people. People are donating their time delivering food to the elderly and/or immunocompromised. People are donating their resources even when they may not have much. Celebrities are giving free concerts online to help us pass the time a little easier. Doctors and nurses are serving on the front lines of the virus. Grocery store workers are working overtime to stock shelves. Neighborhoods are coming together to make sure everyone on their block has what they need.

The list is almost endless of how people are coming together during this time to practice the Zulu greeting, Sawubona, which means I see you. Not just that, I physically see you, but I recognize, respect, and connect with your humanity. The problem in America is that many of us never saw each other. I, myself, am guilty of this as I think, “How often did you ever consider the hard work of those stocking the shelves of your grocery store?” “How often did you think about the mail carrier, or those delivering packages so that you have your items?  How often did you think about the countless people working in restaurants just so that you could go out and have a fancy meal? How often did you think about the sanitation worker that comes each week to do a job many people look down on?” This virus is teaching us to pause and see each other, genuinely see past our differences and connect with the humanity in each other.

Who many of us are at the core simply came out. I believe that goodness and compassion are the core of who we are and who we can be.  It shouldn’t have taken a pandemic for that to happen. It shouldn’t take a pandemic for us to care about our neighbors. It shouldn’t take a pandemic for us to be concerned about the least of those. It shouldn’t take a pandemic for us to reassess the economic structure of this nation and how it benefits very few at the top and tramples on the many at the bottom. It shouldn’t take a pandemic for us to be the village. It shouldn’t take a pandemic for us to care.

But sometimes things are turned upside down for us to put them right side up again.

This world will come out on the other side of this. We will suffer losses. We will bury loved ones. We will shed tears. However, in this moment, we will also find hope in the darkness. We will examine ourselves. We will laugh. We will make new friends. We will set aside our differences and learn to love anyway. We will call each other brothers and sisters and mean it. We will look after the elderly. We will understand what it means to be in community.

These are just some of the lessons that we can learn from this moment in time. If in 2 or 3 months life goes back to “normal,” and we have learned nothing from this than we have failed as a society. Some moments in time shift civilizations; this is one of those moments. We can decide right now to continue to be the village or look back on this moment in history as one we didn’t learn from and will be doomed to yet again, repeat it.

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