What Coronavirus Can Teach Us

Everyone has had their own personal experiences with the COVID-19 virus that raged worldwide in 2020. This month, of the 330,000,000 United States population, approximately 460,000 or 1.2% of the population (as of this writing) have contracted the virus. About 2% of those have died from complications caused by the virus. 

While many were sick and too many died, no one was left untouched by its fury. What have we learned? What are the takeaways for the Coronavirus Pandemic generation? What will we tell our grandchildren? How has it changed our habits and thinking?

We’ve learned to respect data

We learned that data is a more effective communicator than personal opinions and emotions. It was the data that helped nations all over the world to make decisions, though perhaps in some cases we did not react quickly enough.

We learned that we really need one another

Science has always taught that we humans have a deep need to be around other people. A homeless man seen walking painfully down an empty street in NYC, when asked if he needed money for food or medicine, replied simply, “nope, just lonely.” We are social beings, we need one another.

We learned to love technology

From the TV news reports, to Chromebook computers handed out for homebound school kids, to FaceTime and Zoom, we stayed connected. Our devices held us together, allowed students to keep learning, educators teaching, broadcasters reporting, and families conferencing online. Live streaming and binge watching were never as popular. Technology united us.

We learned to wash our hands

We’ve always known that soap removes dirt, grime, and grease, but now we know it also destroys some bacteria, and especially viruses — as long as we wash vigorously for at least 20 seconds or as long as it takes to sing a whole verse of Happy Birthday. 

We learned that life will never be the same again

Not in our lifetime has a single worldwide event touched so many of us. Even World Wars were fought in far-off places by only a few, economic depressions recovered, dictators came and went, and even though we live in the nuclear age, we have yet to blow ourselves up.

When we grow old we will tell our grandchildren about a tiny virus no one could see, feel or touch; that brought business to its knees, shattered world economies, and shuttered the windows of socialization. Then we will tell them about our bravery, determination, and realization that we really need one another. We’ll talk about the heroes who found ways for us to survive and ultimately we’ll talk about the value of compassion, and likely…progress.

More Than Washing Hands

Humans, by nature, value human life. Since the beginning of recorded history natural disasters have been a fact of human life and often centered on the number of lives lost. The Minoan civilization around 1500 B.C. appears to have been completely obliterated by a volcanic eruption with the assumption of all lives being lost to history. More civilizations have been lost to earthquakes and floods. If Noah’s Ark is in fact historical, we can assume the loss of life was astronomical. 

In our lifetime, the Haitian earthquake in 2010 is estimated to have taken between 85,000 to  230,000 human lives, depending on what government recorded the death toll, but its devastation should not be forgotten in the saga of history. Six years earlier, the tsunami in the Indian Ocean swallowed over 200,000 unfortunate souls.

Why are these events significant in light of the current calamity of Coronavirus? Natural disasters bring out the best in human beings. By reflecting on what has happened in the past, we may more easily process how we feel today and put things in perspective. 

Washing hands: Prevention #1

Disaster helps us to understand that while nature can be destructive, life lessons of strength and resiliency can make us all better human beings. In times of crisis, we become more unified, more empathetic, and we work harder for the common good. We develop a deeper sense of spirituality and oneness in our Creator. Those who don’t believe in a God still become more generous, more forgiving, more able to overcome adversity. 

As we stay at home following the rules for “quarantine cooking” we are staying more in touch on social media. Separated families are calling one another more often to check in and express concern and affection for one another. People are donating to charities who feed children unable to go to school. The virus is making a few of us sick, but making far more of us kinder, more generous human beings. It seems as though looking out for one another is our true human nature. We are doing more than washing our hands.

Learn what our local Freestore Foodbank has to say about COVID-19.

“Merry Christmas” is Back!

In the checkout lane of the supermarket the woman checking out in front of me wished the checkout person “Merry Christmas.” She smiled and sort of blushed, then said, “Remember when we couldn’t say that?” The checker and the bagger both smiled, and at the same time said back to the woman, “Merry Christmas.” Walking away with her shopping bag, the woman turned back to the checkout counter and said, “You know, I never stopped saying it, and I never will.”

“Merry Christmas!”

Over the last decade in America, we all became more inclusive of other cultures and more respectful of the way different races and cultures celebrated this time of year. There was a trend to avoid the phrase, or at least to revise it to “Happy Christmas”, or “Happy Holidays.”

But in 2016, on a blustery, snowy day in New Hampshire, Donald Trump was in full campaign mode before a cheering crowd packed into the SNHU ice hockey arena in Manchester. He’d been talking about supporting the military and police officers when he stopped, pointed his finger at the audience, and shouted, “And you are going to be able to say, ‘Merry Christmas’ again!” The crowd roared, and the rest is history.

The origin of the phrase “Merry Christmas” is a bit sketchy, but it may have been first used in a non-religious Christmas song in the 1600s that we all know and sing: “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” In 1843, Charles Dickens used the same phrase in his novel “A Christmas Carol” and it was used as the sentiment on the first-ever commercially printed Christmas card.

The word “merry” probably comes from the old fashioned “merrymaking of the holiday” promoted by Dickens, a message of love, joy, and well wishes that we all make, irrespective of our individual belief systems or political leanings. It’s become a universal term communicating joy and good wishes, and can be used by people of all races and religious backgrounds during Christmas time.

So from us to you at this wonderful time of the year, “Merry Christmas!