April 11, 2020 10 AM – As of this time, the news is reporting 503,594 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the US, with 19,552 people having died of the disease. For those of you who read or have access to the Wall Street Journal, today’s edition has an opinion piece by Peggy Noonan entitled “A Holy Week Amid a National Tribulation” that I would encourage you to read. For those who do not, I will share with you some of her insights, including a few of my own.
The article has a quotation from Andre Malraux, “You did not come back from hell with empty hands.” We should not come out of this crisis without having gained some insight or wisdom to further guide our lives. Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist and professor at NYU’s School of Business, said: “This is a time for us to reflect and choose a better story. Right now stories are being rewritten all around us, nationally, individually, and we all get a chance to do some of the rewriting.”
Surviving hardship makes us stronger, produces growth. During these challenges it becomes easier to be part of something meaningful, “to be part of Team Humanity, to be useful.” We hear the stories of people in New York cheering at 7PM the healthcare workers, doctors and nurses selflessly showing up each day, often without enough rest, risking their own lives and lives of families, because theirs is not only a job, but a calling, a vocation. For those who have forgotten, a vocation is a spiritual event. And once this crisis is over, let’s not forget all the other people, from grocery clerks and bus drivers to police officers and janitors, who also show up each day, living a life of service, so the rest of us can enjoy what many of us until now have taken for granted, our daily lives.
For those who are suddenly forced to spend large blocks of time together as a family, let us reflect how meaningful and important this time can be, and take a more measured assessment of the cost/benefit ratio of giving up this closeness and its rewards for more dollars to purchase more stuff. When life strips you down to the essentials is a good time to examine the importance of the other “stuff” brilliantly skewered by George Carlin in his hilarious routine.
It’s encouraging to see the shift from the “I to the we”, as people living next door to each other are recognizing and acknowledging each other as true neighbors. I was truly touched when a younger friend came by the house yesterday with fresh eggs and a gallon of milk, leaving them on our doorstep, while another friend dropped off some cookies. There was a story on the news the other day when a police officer stopped a woman physician on her way to the hospital for a traffic infraction, but instead of handing her a ticket, gave her the five facemasks he had been issued for his own protection on the job, causing her to break down in tears. All these acts of random kindness unites us a people, reminding us that we were never meant to be alone, and unites us against a foe that doesn’t discriminate based on the color of our skin, the size of our bank account, the importance of our title, or the degree of our physical beauty. Just as the virus fails to discriminate, neither should we. At this holy time for Christians and Jews alike, let us embody the virtues which our religions stress are important: mercy, humility, forgiveness and gratitude. Wishing you all a radiant Easter, a happy Passover, and may God bless us all.