Time for Kindness
It is very likely that, a few months ago, none of us could have imagined being in the situation we are in right now. We're right smack dab in the midst of a global pandemic, practically all manner of commerce and socialization outside of the home at a standstill, resulting in the dynamic and necessary evolution of the human experience in the virtual and online world. It is a “new normal” which does not feel normal at all, but right now, it is the reality of our current existence. It is, however, not a time to lose hope or give in to worrying about things we cannot do anything about. We do our best with the things we can manage and for which we are responsible. Wash your hands well for 20 seconds. If you are sick, stay home. If you can, work from home. If you do not have any essential things to do outside, stay at home. Just stay at home. For many of us, we are currently living a bigger part of our lives online: for work, education, keeping informed and up-to-date with the news, communication, getting together with family and friends – even for worship. As difficult as it has been for all of us to suddenly change how we normally live and do things, it is good to remember that all these measures are for the safety and well-being of others. This is one of the beautiful and unexpected gifts of this unique time in history: that what we are being asked to do by staying home is so simple yet so meaningful because of the sacrifices it entails and the difference our actions make. We may never have an opportunity like this again – this chance to slow down and stop, spend extended periods of time with family members, who would have normally been either a blur in our life’s peripheral vision, or rushing around with us as we pack in one activity after another into a 24-hour day. Now, all of a sudden, we have been afforded this stretch of precious time to be with them. This is another unexpected blessing of this moment in time. There is no intention to minimize the critical nature of this pandemic. In fact, the very nature of the reason for this extended period of time with the family underscores the importance of every single person, within and outside the home. Every single one is uniquely important and makes a difference. We may not have chosen to be in this situation, but how we deal with it is within our measure of control. Let us choose to do what we must with hope and peace, cognizant of the real people for whom we personally care and those behind the numbers and statistics that can be overwhelming at times. Let us care for every single person we can. This is itself a gift. These present times have been likened, at times, to being at war and the conditions of urgency and emergency that have evolved and continue to be in place. It has been said that there are no atheists in foxholes. When we spend our days and nights at home, staying put and just waiting for news of what is happening outside, it feels like a foxhole. This is certainly a good time to reconnect with God, if those communication lines have been left unattended for a bit. Adversity can be fertile ground for growing in one’s faith, and if there was ever a good time to do so – keeping in mind that there are never any bad times at all – this is it.
Many, if not all parents, want their children to grow up to be good human beings: responsible, caring, loving people who make a positive impact on those around them and in the world in general. As parents, we try to look for the very best for our children in terms of education, food, clothing, experiences, etc. Yet, the kind of “training” and learning that our children need cannot be bought or special-ordered online or anywhere else. It is in the home we build for our family that our children learn, from when they are very young and through the years as they grow up, those things that make them into the kind of people that make our world a better place to live in.
One of those “things” is compassion, which is more than just feeling sorry or sad for the unfortunate circumstances or situation of someone else’s pain or misery. To be compassionate is to put others first, looking for ways to help alleviate the pain they feel. Compassion draws on our shared humanity and is akin to both wisdom and justice. We do not have to go through a painful experience necessarily to want to help another who is undergoing a hurtful moment. We want to help them and we do so out of this sense of compassion. Who is the best teacher for our children? Look in the mirror and meet your child’s teacher! As parents, we put already tend to put our children first. Let us encourage them by our example as their parents, as how we treat those around us: spouse, siblings, parents, friends. Our actions – out of compassion and kindness – speak louder than any words we can ever say.