Daily demonstrations of humanity are rays of sunshine in the darkness of pandemic.
My LA friend, Aimee, relates this story:
I have a dear friend who’s parents have both tested positive for COVID-19. Her dad is hospitalized but her mom is home fighting this alone. Each day a member of her church calls her mom to see if she needs anything, usually the answer is “no.” Today the church member called and said that they were dropping by some food. She got a phone call from someone in the church who said, “Please just go open your front door if you are strong enough.” She opened the door to find part of her congregation spread out widely (practicing social distancing) in the street in front of the house. They sang Amazing Grace to her. She cried.
Another friend, Helen, who is a teacher in Colorado, shared a video of some of her fellow practitioners driving through the neighborhood where their students are sequestered, waving and smiling. The kids flocked to the windows. Smiles and laughter were in abundance. These were rock stars, who cared enough to say a simple hello.
Aldi opens early for seniors and people at risk on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Their staff is lean, so they don’t have people cleaning up the shopping carts outside like Costco does. When I made my weekly grocery run, there was a fellow senior (geeze it feels strange to identify with that demographic) standing by the cart corral with disinfectant sheets, wiping them off for us. “Do you work for the company?” I asked. He smiled and shook his head. “I have time and wanted to make a difference. Today, that difference is here.”
“Love and compassion,” writes the Dalai Lama, “are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
Desmond Tutu said, “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”
We’re learning a lot about togetherness these days.
Lessons about the power of humanity abound. We need to train ourselves to see them in the midst of the unimaginable suffering. We hear about the mega heroes, the health care workers and first responders who put their lives at risk so that we might live.
But the glue that holds civilization together is what happens in thousands of different moments, through random acts of humanity.
It’s the husband who stands outside of his wife’s assisted living facility and sings to her through the window at the same time each day. It’s grandparents who make the daily trek to their kids houses to wrangle grandchildren so the parents can work-from-home without interruption. It’s taking one less item than you may think you need at the grocery store so someone else can have one. It’s playing checkers or connect four with a child over a Facetime connection. It’s tipping the driver who delivered your food. It’s gathering the same friends you’d meet at your favorite watering hole on Zoom to share beverages and talk. It’s calling the most important people in your life, just to see how they are doing. It’s making small donations to the organizations who are alleviating suffering and looking out for the less fortunate.
Humanity is working extra hard to avoid overreacting when a friend shares their frustration in political terms on social media. It’s encouraging others to express their spirituality in their own way, even if it might not be your way.
It’s showing up at the polls and voting.
The hardest thing for me to navigate is the utter lack of humanity that seems to radiate from the uppermost levels of government. But I’m reassured when I see elected officials on the state level jumping in to provide responsive leadership, even if it isn’t coming from Washington.
“The fish stinks from the head back,” my former boss, Jeff DeLorme used to say.
In the era of Corona, humanity rises from the bottom up.
Author R.J. Palacio, in her book Wonder, writes, “Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”
Our recovery as a nation will ultimately depend on how well we can express these four traits as individuals.
Years ago, my friend, Todd (TJ) Duckett started a non-profit called New World Flood. “One positive act,” he says, “a single raindrop, is the beginning of a flood of kindness.”
The persistence of a raging river can cut a deep canyon out of solid rock. That river is a collection of raindrops that ended up flowing in the same direction, together.
May we always remember that humanity is collection of individual acts of kindness. Added up, they can be an irresistible force for healing and positive change.
As Bob Marly put it, “One love, one heart, one destiny.”