Goodness in COVID 19 crisis

The disaster keeps triumphantly surging as states and D.C. struggle to control it. Harvard Professor Ken Rogoff warns,
“We are going to see a recession, at least in the short term, the likes of which we have not seen at least going back to World War II. . . . We're in a war. . . . I would have no problem with the government debt magically going up $5 trillion in the blink of an eye, . . . This is an emergency.”

In addition to the economic war, we have to win the psychological war. COVID 19 can threaten emotional stability, our faith in ourselves and our universe.
Still, within every dark moment rest points of light, and I intend to make some known. 

Disasters have a way of inciting extraordinary kindness and courage. A “mysterious, erotic, enveloping sense of possibility and communion” emerges in disasters, says Rebecca Solnit, who was interviewed by Krista Tippett on On Being this morning.

During Hurricane Katrina, mainstream media believed and broadcast vicious, made-up stories about the non-white people in the Superdome too poor to evacuate. They were said to be killing each other and shooting at helicopters trying to rescue people. Lies.

The truth coming out later—I remember learning it at the time—but never fully brought to the public’s awareness, was that their mutual misery generated extraordinary acts of kindness. Next to filthy, overflowing toilets, they retained their humanity and decency. They rescued others in worse shape and did what they could to lift spirits.

Our present disaster, despite its social distancing, also generates cooperation and reaching out to help.
Two neighbors called me to offer their services if I need something. Such sympathetic reaching out is becoming common. People are finding ways to be useful—walking the dog for a harried health care worker, signing up for an experimental vaccine, packing lunches for delivery to homebound people, running errands for whomever.

My daughter, who lives an hour and a half away, offered to pay for having groceries delivered to me and reminded me of my damaged respiratory system. I declined but consider myself unusually fortunate. I don’t anticipate running out of supplies I really need.

Someone explained the run on toilet paper by saying that, unlike groceries, it’s not replaceable. “There are no substitutes.” I disagree. During the earliest of my growing-up years we used catalogs in the outhouse. 

It wasn’t been so long ago that Americans did not consider toiletpaper absolutely essential. I don’t recommend catalogs in the outhouse but can imagine using tissues, paper towels, napkins (saved from eateries), or even what women used during menstrual periods before better products emerged—rags.

Having been trained by a mother who never changed habits begun during the Great Depression—she and Dad married 4 weeks before the stock market crash of 1929—I throw away hardly anything. Articles of clothing nicely absorbent and too ragged to donate to a used-clothing store, I save. They do a better job of cleaning than any products on sale.

I hope others now learn habits of conserving that were common during the Great Depression.

Businesses are reinventing themselves to tackle needs caused by COVID 19. A Duluth distillery got an idea implemented by distilleries around the country. Its supply of ethyl alcohol, no longer in demand for bars, can be an ingredient for making hand sanitizers. A business in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, changed the use of its chemical disinfectant from pest control to disinfecting offices, medical equipment, gyms, and vehicles.

Italians raised their spirits and those of their neighbors by belting out songs from balconies.
An Italian tenor serenaded his stricken city, Florence, by singing Verdi’sLa Donna E Mobile” and Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma.”

I expect the media will keep telling such uplifting stories during this crisis. If we look, we will see profound humanity and decency during the coming months.


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