The more we can be in a relationship with those who might seem strange to us, the more we can feel like we’re neighbors and all members of the human family.Fred Rogers
Mr. Rogers would have been one to find light in the darkest of days of the corona virus pandemic. He would emphasize the goodness in people over their fear, or greed, or loss. When, we were asked, then urged, and finally, mandated to limit our comings and goings, many complied out of protectiveness for our families and neighbors. With workplaces mostly shuttered, millions of commuters are not stuck in traffic, but there is also no place to go. The environment is getting a reprieve. Popular tourist sites, emptied of visitors, are seeing animals return, and air quality has gone way up in our big cities. In the second month of precautions, grocery stores and other essential businesses practice minimum distancing. Emptied store shelves have been restocked. Patience has replaced panic. Desperate hoarding and roundly mocked opportunists have disappeared. In places that thrive on tourism, beaches and hiking trails remain closed out of precaution. However, neighbors are walking and chatting. We finally meet neighbors -from opposite sides of the street. These are the same folks that waved to one another as they passed in cars the last dozen years. Married couples are learning how to cope with a spouse home seven days a week.
Those who are working are keeping needed services going. Help for our communities has come from within – from retooled factories to make medical supplies, to sharing of ideas and resources to help our children learn from home. Some are entertaining their young children with homemade amusement rides. Celebrities are now elderly people walking, dancing, or being feted by passersby on their 90th or centennial birthdays. Millions of views on social media raise donations for public health and healthcare workers. Struggling businesses – sandwich shops and local diners have dedicated fans ordering take out routinely to help. Garden-grown vegetables, fruit, and groceries are shared with others whose frail health make this a hazardous time to fall ill.
COVID-19, as yet, has no cure nor preventative vaccine. It has sickened many hundreds of thousands, killed elderly as well as young people, athletes and those with compromising health conditions. Could this virus kill other social ills of the 21st Century? Materialism. Or the contagious contempt of a group whose take “sides” and value others’ worth based on political positions, social or economic policies, or science. While the majority are finding ways to help neighbors, others remain stuck in their ignorance. To help these bitter people more than a Fred Rogers is needed. One who knows our every thought, fear, and our capability to be better people. Our Lord, Jesus has the Universal Truth.
2 He said: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; 3 my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield[a] and the horn[b] of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior— 2 Samuel 22:2 -3 (NIV)
In my little community, many have taken this time to reflect positively. We walk our dogs. Call relatives we have not seen in a while. We adapted to ordering household items online, or ordering take-out food. Some post online little songs and ditties about the “search for toilet paper”. Others honor First Responders with gifts. With church services, concerts, or “Zoom” meetings streaming, we aid our elderly family and friends to go online. No one need to feel isolated. Just as those who have not heard the “Good News”, are helping and comforting one another, it is opportunity for Believers to demonstrate that being rooted in the LORD, even greater blessings- “Life to the Full” – are for those who turn to Him. “Would you be my, could you be my, Neighbor”.
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36 -40 (NIV)