We’re currently experiencing history in the making, and the comfortable world as we know it has been turned upside down in a matter of days. While there are certainly those displaying the worst of themselves by fighting over cans of corn or buying and re-selling thousands of dollars of hand sanitizer, there are so many more people displaying the goodness of humanity and the innate connectedness of the human spirit.
When it comes down to it, humans are good. In a much more trying time than this, Anne Frank wrote that “in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” We have an innate understanding of right and wrong, and with that comes an underlying desire to love and help our fellow man. Of course, we all have selfish tendencies, but when push comes to shove, most people have the best of intentions. This crisis we currently find ourselves in, despite the many negative headlines, is evidence of this.
Anne Frank wrote that “in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
There is more going on right now than panicked, angry customers and empty shelves. While there are many at risk, precautions that need to be taken, and people with legitimate needs and fears, the media hysteria we’re seeing isn’t focusing on the many selfless acts that are also happening. Although anecdotal, I have personally seen an overwhelmingly kind, caring, and calm response as the COVID-19 closures have begun to seriously impact my immediate community. As a San Diego resident, it has been a little over 72 hours since mass closures have begun to rock our community, and since then my heart has been rejuvenated watching the kindness of humanity.
From Surfers to Harvard
As stores began running out of basics like toilet paper, a local surfer stood on the corner and ran his own toilet paper exchange. People were tossing rolls out their window or taking one as needed, inspired by the genuine goodness of one man concerned about strangers.
I am a part of two different churches that immediately began organizing efforts to help seniors and the sick. The healthiest members instantly offered to get groceries, drive, or mobilize to make phone calls and spreadsheets to determine who needed what, and when and where they were going to get those items.
The school I teach at is literally full of individuals whose immediate thought was getting food and supplies to our most impoverished families. Our secretary was personally packing bags of food late into the night to ensure that no mouth would be hungry without the school nutrition services. I am a part of several growing Facebook groups with educators from all over the world, putting together resources from personal and professional sources to help families both educate and entertain children during this uncertain time.
Friends from all walks of life began sharing temporary job opportunities for those out of work.
Thousands of colleges and businesses have started offering their products and services for free. Friends from all walks of life began sharing temporary job opportunities for those out of work. People listed local small businesses that are still operating and how to spread out support amongst them. The local, national, and international communities haven’t stopped working together during this time.
The Significance of These Actions
Perhaps more importantly than these actions though is the testament they give to the human heart. One of the most touching things I’ve seen is the videos of quarantined Italians singing and dancing with one another from the balconies of their homes.
As humans, we have this innate need for connection with one another, a desire to be known and seen. We’ve allowed ourselves to be divided by politics, ethnicities, or experiences, and this pandemic is one big reminder that we really aren’t so different. Our spirits long for and value the same things.
We’ve allowed ourselves to be divided by politics, ethnicities, or experiences, and this pandemic is one big reminder that we really aren’t so different.
During times of hardship, we stop and recognize what it is that is really important in life. If we think hard enough, we come to realize that selfless acts, like sharing toilet paper on a street corner or singing together from the rooftops, are actually the most meaningful and valuable things we can do in life.
We are learning, or being forced, to stop and slow down. We have the opportunity to embrace the beauties that transcend our workaday life that we have lost in our busyness: art, nature, and human connection. The moments that transcend time that come from playing a game, creating art, embracing nature, or having a genuine conversation with a loved one, these are the opportunities we have right now.
Let’s address the current situation and take seriously the severity of what we are dealing with, of course. But let’s also pay attention to the gift that this could be for a human society that has long forgotten that goodness and love are the true desires of our souls.