By: John R.F. Humphreys
Increasing uncertainty fills the air as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the nation and engulfs the world. Daily, it is painful to watch as fear, panic, and death stab at the heart. But love, gratitude, and compassion brace themselves as a protective wall. In seeing how the world is reacting during this time, it truly is revealing of just how fragile and vulnerable our society is to attack. Although technology and industrialization have made our world smaller than ever before – what with our ability to travel and trade with people from all over the world – it has also allowed this invisible enemy to wreak widespread havoc so quickly. Collectively, Americans are very social people by nature; we readily lend a hand and give a hug not only to loved ones, but also to strangers in need. Compassion and empathy for others has always been our greatest strength, but it is also necessitating the need for new rules and lifestyles during this pandemic.
Living in a world where a trip to Disney was possible every day of the year, is no longer the reality. The closing of theme parks, restaurants, and all other unessential businesses has created mass layoffs, economic uncertainly, and limited medical services. Slowly these orders – along with safer at home rules, social distancing (staying six feet apart and no more than ten people gathering together), and washing your hands in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds – has all happened in an attempt to get people to stay safe, to stop gathering in groups to stop the spread of this virus, and flatten the curve. Here in Florida we have 16.7 million people, and according to Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried, “…there [are] only 33,000 hospital beds available…”. Although most healthy individuals will have less intense symptoms and will survive the virus, many will have long-lasting residual effects from it like lung and eye problems. Throughout the county, supermarkets and local grocery stores continue to restock, but hoarders have emptied the shelves repeatedly, leaving many people without toilet paper. Though why toilet paper, one might ask. Well sadly the truth is it was not from scarcity but rather from greed and the fear of not having. Once someone put the last 6-pack in their cart at Sam’s Club and someone else wanted one, a fight broke out and word spread like wildfire that there were people buying out all of the toilet paper. So, a rush to buy toilet paper ensued. Walking the aisles of Publix and seeing all of the empty shelves gave the feeling of a void; a saddening of nothingness. From top to bottom, along the shelves, there were signs limiting how much one could buy of a particular item. At check-out, a man had taken too many jugs of water and he was not allowed to buy them; the limit was two. Confused and angry, the man had to put back the other jugs of water.
Sadly, death has already become a reality for thousands, but the fear of death is creating more of a panic. Overwhelming lack of PPE is a real concern not just for hospital staff, but also for government employees, patients, and people in general. Since the coronavirus’ beginnings in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, it has spread globally via respiratory droplets (coughing and sneezing). It has an incubation period of 5 to 15 days, with most people developing symptoms within 11.5 days. Confusion and uncertainty over who has it and what will happen if it is contracted, is preventing friends from playing with each other, families from celebrating with elder members, kids attending school, and church members gathering to pray. Although it feels like all hope is lost during this fearful time, there is a light burning bright; like a shining beacon of hope, and many blessings happening each day.
Never before has our mortality as human beings been so obvious; this is why the saying carpe diem, which means “seize the day”, is something to take to heart. Although stuck at home, we are blessed with an opportunity to spend quality time with our families. Also, thanks to modern day technology, we are able to communicate via video chats as well as work from home and do virtual learning. Around the clock, this is helping us all to stay connected, informed, and entertained. Growing something or gardening puts our hands in the soil and reminds us of the cycle of life – which is the rule all life lives by. Since there exists a beginning, middle, and end, so shall there be with this coronavirus pandemic. There has been a beginning, we are in the middle, and eventually there will be an end. Knowing that history repeats itself allows us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and better prepare for our future. Using this time for self-reflection, gratitude, and renewed faith will help us understand who we are, how we can help, and what God wants from us. Individually and together as humans, the more we can love ourselves, the more we can pour love into this world. God loves us all and wants us to succeed and help others. In order to get through this present day pandemic, we need to trust in God and believe in our ability as human beings to work together.
Throughout history, when major events like war or walking on the moon happened, there have always been clear objectives and identifiable enemies. Those challenges had a face we could hate or rally behind. Today with the coronavirus, that face is invisible; there is no cure, no way to know who has it, or what will happen if you get it. Because of this our world will be forever changed. Globally, the decisions we make today affect our future, so we need to look at the bigger picture of what these choices mean. Although homeschooling, virtual classes, and Zoom calls are great, there is nothing like working together with friends, studying with classmates, or the human experience of having a live seminar, concert, or sporting event. When we come together as a group of people for a common reason, it is like we all interconnect, and it magnifies the experience on all levels. For example: I have watched the moon landing video and read books about the moon, but once I touched a moon rock, watched a shuttle launch, and talked with astronauts, it became more than a story, more than a dream. It changed my perspective and gave me a deeper understanding of the challenges, sacrifices, and accomplishments the moon landing represents. Looking forward it is important for us to be compassionate and empathetic towards each other. Until we can control the numbers of contagion, we need to construct boundaries for our personal safety and the safety of others.
Collectively as a society, using the strategies and data provided by scientists and doctors, we can create the time they need to find a cure for this virus. While the economical strain has caused uncertainty, stress, and the highest unemployment rate since World War II, slowly people are returning to work and activities – without any guarantee of what is to come. Learning from our past will allow us to prepare for the future. Constantly changing, the world and we humans, continue to evolve. Things will not return to the way they were, but we can work together to make the world a better place for the human race.