It’s difficult to put into words how we’re all feeling. Every hour, news about coronavirus evolves and life as we know it changes even more. This is uncharted territory for us as adults, and as parents, we have the added responsibility of guiding our kids through something we don’t even fully understand ourselves. To say this is scary and overwhelming seems naively understated.
Where do we even begin?
The circumstances may be different, but I can’t help but reflect on September 11, 2001. Never before that day had our way of life been so disrupted and our security as a society turned upside down. And, honestly, it changed us. We don’t look at the world in the same way, and I imagine we won’t after COVID-19, either. As 9/11 did, this virus is forcing us to take unprecedented steps to care for and protect our society, and it will teach us countless lessons for the future.
But, like September 11th, this virus also has the potential to do something else.
It can bring out the very BEST in us.
That may seem hard to imagine as we navigate our jobs, while guiding our children through online learning. This may be especially true as we begin to experience the emotional and economic ramifications of a societal shut down, and face the potential physical toll that this virus may take. But, in the midst of our most difficult moments, Americans have a knack of shining a little brighter than the darkness around them.
And, this is our chance to do that again.
Let’s begin by taking off our political jerseys. We may be in the middle of a political season, but we’re not Democrats and Republicans right now. We’re Americans who have been thrown into this together. I love thinking back to that incredible time following the 9/11 terrorist attacks when members of Congress spontaneously sang “God Bless America” on the Capitol steps. That degree of political unity and solidarity is what the best of us looks like. Locally, I’m proud of the way Georgia’s Republican governor and Atlanta’s Democratic Mayor have worked together in these difficult days, speaking highly of their partnership in the press. We know how to do this. Let’s follow their lead.
Let’s filter our fear into service. Following the announcement about school cancellations, you know what I surprisingly have not seen explode on Facebook? A barrage of complaints. What I have seen, however, is an overwhelming amount of people inquiring how to help those children who are dependent on the meals provided by their schools. The same goes for those asking how to support our elderly neighbors who are vulnerable. What’s the best way to handle our emotions when the world around us is spinning out of control? This is. And, we are so good at it. This is the goodness that rallies us when friends lose loved ones and natural disasters occur. We always flourish when we give back during dark times. (*Please see below for a list of local organizations that are helping with these efforts right now.)
Most importantly, let’s pack our patience. Our global society has never had to manage anything like this before, and the entire world is operating within a tornado of fear and uncertainty. We MUST be patient as we find our way through. Let’s be patient with our leaders, our kids, our friends and neighbors, our spouses, and most importantly – ourselves. These coming weeks will include moments that, quite frankly, are not our best. But, let’s anticipate that and assume positive intent in our interactions with each other. Let’s cut through the ugliness of what we’re experiencing by extending grace. We are all trying to do this thing right.
There is such a beautiful juxtaposition that occurs when the very best of us – the true heart of who we are – shines just a bit brighter than the worst of what is thrown our way. Let’s show our kids what true strength, resilience, faith and love look like. And, let’s demonstrate to the world once again how light always peeks through, in even the darkest of times.
*For ways to help others in need, particularly children who rely on meals they are served at school, the Atlanta Community Food Bank and North Fulton Charities are great places to start. Two other organizations serving the northern Atlanta-metro suburbs are The Place of Forsyth County, Inc. and Meals By Grace. If you know of other organizations that need our support right now, please share by commenting below.