Social Distancing: Mixing compassion and cooperation

Published 3:56 pm Sunday, March 29, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic is creeping closer to my and your homes. This week a Milligan College staffer tested positive for COVID-19.
The coronavirus has made all of us anxious and our community is fearful. It’s difficult to find much needed supplies as toilet tissue, hand sanitizer, cleaning products, and even bread and meat.
We are practicing social distancing – a term unheard off until the coronavirus made its appearance. What it means in simple terms is that we stay at home – no school, no church, no eating out, no shopping unless it is absolutely necessary.
We are a resilient people, and we will bounce back.
So much of social distancing depends on our willingness to act in ways that seemingly put the interest of others before our own. In other words: We must show compassion to others.
In the face of crisis, fear is a common emotion and in the short term, it can grab our attention and make us more cautious. But it can also lead to problems like panic buying and hoarding of resources. It can cause us to care less about others. In short, fear can pull us inward, away from others.
Adversity can bring about compassion as well as fear. Compassion. on the other hand, causes us to reach out to others. It pushes us to share their burdens. It makes us sacrifice for others.
The tricky part with the COVID-19 crisis is that it’s scrambling the ways we normally experience compassion and cooperation. Social distancing means we can’t lend a shoulder to cry on; we can’t come together in person to help out older, more vulnerable people; we can’t go out to support our local restaurants and shops.
One way to show compassion during this health emergency that lends itself to a greater willingness to stay at home, we could buy only what is needed and share resources in whatever way is possible. We could phone an elderly neighbor or a member in the church to see how they are doing. There are all kinds of needs: an elderly person who’s homebound may want help ordering groceries online; a parent may need child care because schools have closed; a laid-off worker may need some financial help at the moment. You may be able to help or know someone who can.
These actions can improve lives, but also create gratitude that can pay itself forward.
There are other ways to help. One local church has called on its members to follow the example of Daniel in the Bible – to join in prayer everyday at 9 a.m., noon, and again at 3 p.m. and to petition God to heal our nation and our people. God is able!
We could all benefit from reaching out to others, doing acts of kindness even as we practice social distancing.

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