This young girl in Haiti lives very much without the basics that we take for granted. And now, when we’re chaffing at the bit about having to stay inside and social distance from our routine, I wonder how she is doing. While we’re hoarding toilet paper like it’s the zombie apocalypse, she still has to fetch water from a common tap. We have the luxury of Grubhub and Doordash. Of working indoor plumbing. We worry about the coronavirus but don’t spend any time fearing an outbreak of cholera. I don’t mean to minimize our fears, because they are very real with very real consequences. I am still recovering from a serious lung infection and, while I feel 100%, my body is still healing. This coronavirus could send me back into ICU, or worse – so yes, I am concerned.
This situation is a wake-up call for the world. Of just how interconnected we are, and how no “big beautiful wall” can keep out danger, real or imagined. It is also showing our penchant for prejudice. Here, Chinese-Americans are being spit on, yelled at, or otherwise verbally attacked, according to an article in the New York Times. It doesn’t help that our “leader” insists on calling it “the Chinese virus”.
This is the time to face facts, to react with calm deliberation, and to look out for our neighbors whether they be across the street or on the other side of the globe. We can’t directly help China or Italy, but we can stop bigots from attacking people for simply being of a certain ethnic origin.
We can stop hoarding supplies and stop the self-fulfilling prophesy of shortages. Buy what you need, realize the supply chain is still intact and that the coronavirus does not give you diarrhea so there’s no need to turn your bathroom cabinets into your own version of Sam’s Club. We can, if financially viable, get a take-away from a local restaurant a little more often. We can pray for those who cannot work from home and have lost their precious income, but as an old Russian proverb goes, “Pray to God, but row towards shore”. In other words, keep giving to your house of worship, keep donating to food banks, keep giving blood, keep supporting international aide groups. It is all needed now more than ever.