This is going to be an Easter holiday for the record books. Never before have so few people attended an Easter service and yet, at the same time, there will be record numbers of people praying, singing, listening to music and hearing inspirational messages. Wanting to get a jump start on the holiday weekend, I decided to do my part by sharing my thoughts and spreading my own message of hope and encouragement during this time of fear and discouragement.
As the old saying goes, “hope springs eternal,” and my own hope is inspired by watching the human spirit shine during these unprecedented times of stress, pain and destruction. Watching this pandemic unfold and how people are reacting to it reminds me of a story Wayne Dyer shared about an orange. During one of his talks he held up an orange and asked the audience if he were to squeeze the orange really, really hard what did they think would come out. A little girl in the front row answered indignantly, “Well orange juice, of course.” Dr. Dyer said, “Exactly. Whatever is on the inside of something will come out when it is squeezed.”
It seems to me that we collectively are being squeezed. The pressures we are facing are unprecedented. The stress is overwhelming. But it is during times like these that we will see what we are really made of and what is on the inside of each of us.
Without a doubt as I look out over the landscape, I see all kinds of negativity being expressed. People are too willing to point fingers and play the blame and shame game. Then there are the hoarders, the fear mongers, and those who choose to walk around in denial or refuse to be told what to do.
But I also see the very best of human nature emerging from the private sector and individuals alike that gives all of us reasons to remain positive and hopeful. The following are five areas where I see this being expressed:
- Creativity and Ingenuity
We’ve all heard that necessity is the mother of invention, and this has never been truer than now. I can’t remember another time in my life where I have witnessed so many examples of how adaptive and creative humans can be when faced with a challenge. For instance, right now:
- Teachers are adapting their lesson plans and lectures to accommodate online learning.
- Medical professionals are providing healthcare services over the phone and through video conferencing an online websites.
- Pharmaceutical companies, university labs, and individual scientists all over the world are working on anti-viral medications, testing and vaccines.
- Choirs and orchestras are individually recording and performing their music for a worldwide audience to enjoy.
- Inventers have figured out how to use 3D printers to make face shields.
- Manufacturing plants have been reconfigured to produce medical equipment like ventilators, respirators, protective gear and sanitizers.
By nature, most Americans are generous and compassionate, and hard times tend to bring out their best. People want to reach out to share what they have and are able to give. Generosity comes in many forms and involves far more than money. For example:
- Both large and small business are donating millions of medical supplies to health care workers and hospitals.
- Countless restaurants are donating food and sack lunches.
- Individuals are providing food and comfort stops in their homes for cross country truckers.
- Cottage industry seamstresses all over the U.S. are making homemade masks.
Americans are also service oriented, and now in a time of crisis there are various ways people are lending a helping hand. Here’s some of the ways they are doing that:
- Errands are being run and items picked up for people who are high risk and should not leave their homes.
- Friends and neighbors are providing transportation, childcare, housekeeping and yard maintenance for those who are sick, hospitalized, or unable to perform these tasks for themselves.
- Businesses are offering “seniors only” shopping times, pick-up and delivery services.
- Food is being collected and delivered to food banks, hospitals and schools.
- Blood is being donated to blood banks.
- Individual and corporate pilots fly supplies to remote counties
Thousands of men and women in various occupations are showing up and risking their own health to help stem the spread of Covid-19. These include:
- First responders who risk exposure every day, and may be performing their jobs without adequate protection.
- Doctors and nurses who are exhausted by long hours and isolation from their families and risk their lives as well.
- Grocery store and pharmacy personnel who show up every day to ensure our basic essential needs are being met.
- Truckers and delivery workers who work around the clock to satisfy the demand for food and supplies.
While inconvenient and frustrating, shelter-at-home mandates and isolation are providing an unexpected opportunity for self-examination and to determine what is and what is not important. As a result, many are recognizing the value of having faith and spirituality as a part of daily life. There are many ways this is being expressed:
- Of people surveyed, 56% claim they pray everyday for their loved ones, healthcare workers, leaders, and their country as whole, to get through the pandemic.
- Millions are watching church and a variety of spiritual services online.
- More people are finding the time to meditate and slow down the pace at which they have been living.
- Many are reaching out and reconnecting with old friends and family members who have been out of touch to check on their well-being and catch up on each other’s lives.
- More quality time is being spent with families: cooking meals together, talking and getting to know one another better, playing games and watching movies, (many online streaming services are free now), going for walks (the dogs are loving this) and just taking the time to exercise more, listening to music, and reading bedtime stories to their children.
Here are just a few video links illustrating all the positive ways people are responding to the pandemic:
The point of all this is to remind you as well as myself that hope is not lost, and for many it is not forgotten either. What we are experiencing now is temporary. In the midst of a crisis it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Slowly but surely we will get through this pandemic. In the meantime, please take the time to look around and acknowledge how people are stepping up and working together to deal with this worldwide crisis. In spite of all the negativity that we are experiencing, I want you to know the many ways this is also bringing out the best of human nature and hope does spring eternal.