By Andrew Beeler
Over the past several weeks, we have all witnessed one of the most remarkable occurrences of the 21st Century. The rapid spread of the coronavirus, previously unknown to the world, has been the cause of state-wide lockdowns, forced business closures and canceled schools throughout America and the world. Small business owners, health care providers, and families alike have felt the strain of this outbreak – some more than others with no two stories the same. But the one thing that we all share in this time of unprecedented crisis is our humanity and our shared desire for decency.
In a time of political divisiveness, we often see situations taken as an opportunity to score political points or blame our political opponents: who did not do what, and why? The only difference between crises throughout history is how long it takes pundits to return to their former, partisan selves.
I submit, that we all must instead spend this time focusing on the age-old maxim of helping our neighbors through this struggle. Save the debates over the severity of the outbreak or the government’s response for later, and then only do so to the extent that we can learn how better to respond in the future. Now is the time for us to ensure our neighbors have the supplies they need, our families are not suffering from isolation and the elderly and at-risk in our lives are taking the necessary health precautions. We should allow this time to make us aware of the widowed in our lives—those who don’t have the pleasure of company during pseudo quarantines; those who live paycheck to paycheck who may not know how they will feed their families from the sparse grocery store aisles; and we should allow this time to make us grateful for living in the wealthiest and most generous country on earth. Like it or hate it, capitalism has given us the supply infrastructure that meets our consumption demands even in times of crisis, and private industry has come to our aid in many ways to provide cost-effective solutions to the outbreak.
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In any crisis, we should all feel called to show greater decency and compassion to one another. Do not allow your difference in opinion – politically or otherwise – to prevent you from showing compassion to someone suffering. We need not ask why they are suffering in an attempt to change their mind. Rather, we ought only provide them the help, counsel or resources they need. “Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal”. Though said through the lens of the Cold War, President Kennedy’s sentiment remains true today. When we are at the grocery store, when we see a friend in need or when we remember an elderly widow in our lives, we should all remember that which we have in common, not that which divides.