Stay calm, be kind, love thy neighbor

The Story

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The COVID-19 coronavirus is changing the world as we know it right now. And while the numbers will get worse before they get better, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Our hometowns, our state, our country, and the world are different these days. Who could have imagined how this virus would change our lives? Nobody, because we have never been through anything like this before. And when we finish this race, I pray we never do again.

Some of our neighbors are losing their jobs. We’ve shut down our schools. Some businesses have closed their doors, for now, to keep employees and customers safe from possibly being exposed to COVID-19 or even passing it to someone else.

A lot of small businesses are struggling. Like so many of us, they’re worried about the future. Times like this bring out the best and worst in folks. I choose to try to see the good in people though.

I’ll admit, I cried when my daughter Megan, who lives 650 miles away in West Palm Beach, told me what happened when she went to a store to try to find toilet paper. They were sold out, again.

She was in line to pay for some other items when she saw a young boy behind her with a loaf of bread. She paid for it. The boy thanked her. The cashier was so touched, she gave Megan five dollars off her purchase. And a woman looked at her and said, “God bless you.” Megan cried.

By the way, I sent her toilet paper. So did several other family members. I share this story with you because it’s a perfect example of what we have to do right now, take care of each other.

My oldest daughter is a teacher. She’s missing her 7th graders but is still teaching, at home. Her students, my three grandchildren who range in age from one to five. They take field trips in the yard to look for shamrocks and virtual tours online.

We have to help each other right now. Mr. Rogers once said, “When I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

I’m seeing some creative ways of how people are doing that. Hollywood stars are having story-time and reading to kids. Musical artists are getting online and playing little mini-concerts.

And for those of you who are still out there every day from hauling and restocking store shelves with food and making sure public services continue to take care of those who may be sick and providing meals to children while they’re out of school, I say thank you.

Each of us can play an important role in the days to come, whether it’s calling friends or loved ones just to check on them and see how they’re doing, to shopping for those who either can’t or are too afraid to leave their homes.

The human spirit is tougher than any coronavirus. We are going to get through this COVID-19 health crisis. I can’t tell you when, but we’re going to be okay. And while we’re on this journey together, be calm. Be kind. Love thy neighbor.

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