What a day this has been.
As I am writing this post, on Friday, March 13 (yes, Friday the 13th), this has simply been a crazy time for our country… indeed our world.
There is not getting around it… The Coronavirus has taken over our world, at least in the short-term. Make no mistake about it, whether or not you become a carrier of the virus(and I hope and pray you don’t), the reality is that everyone has felt the sting of this worldwide pandemic.
From the loss of March Madness, loss of the NBA (temporarily), vacations cut short, vacations cancelled, being placed out of work, loss of income, loss of toilet paper (I’m still trying to understand this one…), loss of routine or simply just a little more added anxiety during this time, we have all been affected by the spread of this virus. Just today, I was informed a training at the local Navy base where I was to be the keynote speaker was cancelled. I was incredibly disappointed.
Make no mistake about it, we are all in this together. One way or another, this is a global situation.
Yet, as a person of faith, I believe everything has a reason…a purpose. Yes, even those circumstances that cause pain, fear, anxiety and disappointment; even these circumstances have a purpose in our lives. Our job is to simply see the purpose.
In this initial phase of shock and adjustment around the world, I am am seeing some positives that are emerging from the global Coronavirus crisis. And, please, do not mistake my optimism for blindness. In no way am I seeking to minimize the pain and suffering the Coronavirus has caused, is causing and will continue to cause individuals, families and communities throughout the world. Yet, I do believe when we “reframe” our situations, we take back power and come to see ways we can continue to grow and evolve through crisis.
This being said, here are some of the positives I am seeing from the current and painful situation we find ourselves in:
- A common enemy creates unity. Nothing brings people together like a common enemy. You’ve heard the saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This is the case with the Coronavirus. In a time when our country and our world is more polarized than ever, this virus has caused us to place our differences aside and stare a common enemy in the face. In this way, we are seeing traces of unity across the globe. On the homefront in the United States, just today we read the headline, “The House Democrats and the White House reach a deal…” You would have never guessed this a year ago! We need to take the small victories when we can get them.
- Families and friends are spending more time together. This past week, I overheard a woman say that because of the constant barrage of Coronavirus news dominating both the new and social media, she was putting her phone down thereby forcing her to spend more time with her family! I heard another person in the grocery store line the other day say, “This feels like Christmas…just without the fun stuff!” What is Christmas about? Stocking up and spending time with loved ones (but with the large man in a red suit bringing toys!). While it is too early to confirm data in this area, it is reasonable to suggest this virus has brought families and friends closer together. And, quite frankly, this a good and necessary thing.
- Communities are coming together to protect the most vulnerable. In Los Angeles, about two hours north of my home, they have shut down the 2nd largest school system in the nation. Shutting down schools causes a great deal of anxiety and consternation among low-income communities where many of the children receive their breakfast, lunch, even dinner through the public school system. We are now hearing about community resource centers popping up around Los Angeles that will be open from 6am to 6pm to help care for these children. In my hometown of Chula Vista, CA, a suburb of San Diego, hand washing stations have been made available for the homeless on the streets. Sure, these are small efforts, but they are indeed intentional efforts to help those most affected by this crisis. Next week, I will be in a conference call with other community leaders and pastors in the San Diego region to discuss how to help the homeless population through this crisis. Communities truly are coming together to help those who most need it.
- Life, and the world we live in, have become more valuable. In recent days, one can sense a broader awareness of life and the world around us. Most of you reading this post experience electricity on a routine basis. More than likely, you take it for granted… until a power outage hits your community. With each passing hour without electricity, you come to realize just how important electricity is to your daily life. You crave the light…and heat…and refrigeration. The moment the power is turned back on, you literally leap for joy! You turn on your television, go check the fridge, power up your computer and do everything you missed doing for those minutes – or hours – you were without electricity. You have a renewed sense of the value of electricity. I sense this happening in our local and global community right now. When faced with a common enemy that has the power to end lives and bring global corporations to their knees, we begin to think about the value – and beauty – of life. We become more somber in our approach to every day living. We begin to appreciate the smaller moments. We realize the power in just taking a breath. We collectively are reminded that life truly is wonderful and we must hang on to every last breath.
- We are reminded of the importance of watching our hands. I do not mean to sound facetious, but there is something to this. Simply washing our hands. Of course, most of us wash our hands after we use the restroom, touch raw chicken or when we return from a large gathering of people, but, as a larger society, we struggle with hygiene. This pandemic has reminded us of the power we have…in simply washing our hands. And not simply washing our hands…but washing our hands often. But what about the poor? What about those in remote countries with little to access to clean water? What about them? Well, as an international community, we certainly have more work to do to bring equitable clean water resources to the masses. And we will tackle this problem head on.
The Coronavirus is not ideal and certainly not convenient. Yet, he we are.
We must make the most of this moment in history, learn how we can be better as a broader society and, when we can, reframe this crisis to see the good in all things.
Oh…and wash your hands.