The coronavirus outbreak has reached us all in one way or another. While there has been economic stress, fear and death, there are also glimpses of humanity at its’ best.
All over the world, people are finding ways to cope and make the world a better place. Some find that they can make a difference on an individual level. A taxi driver in Europe traveled more than 900 miles to bring back an Italian student who was stuck in Spain due to the coronavirus. He did this for free to help a stranger. Mario Salerno, a landlord in New York who saw the financial impact this virus had on his tenants, forgave the rent of all 200 tenants for the month of April. Hundreds of thousands of essential workers have been living in their cars to protect their families from this virus. In response, Airbnb hosts have, one by one, given their homes for free to these workers.
We have known limited resources during this crisis, and in response, indigenous women in Oaxaca, Mexico have been hand weaving face masks from palms. They then donate them to those who do not have the means to purchase a mask. It is a common story that many are out of work, and in Vietnam, ‘Rice ATMs’ are placed around the country to feed the hungry. And at the beginning of this pandemic, in Bozeman, Montana, the Urban Kitchen restaurant prepared food at no cost for those in need. Across the world from us, an historic 18th century Peruvian bull ring was made into a shelter for the homeless, providing food, health services, and security.
It often starts with one person. Consider the Kansas farmer with five masks who kept four masks for each of his family and sent the one left to New York’s Governor Cuomo for a nurse or physician on the frontline. Or Captain Tom Moore in the United Kingdom who decided to raise £1,000 by his 100th birthday for National Health Service Charities Together. He did this by taking a total 100 laps in his garden. As of April 29th, one day before his birthday, he had raised over £29.5 million. And in the United Kingdom, two volunteers were injected with the new possible COVID-19 vaccine. These were the first of over 800 volunteers.
We live in Montana where social distancing is a given, and yet we are a part of the whole. In Hamilton, Montana, scientists at Rocky Mountain Labs are developing a vaccine for COVID-19, and the National Institutes for Health indicate that the results of these scientists’ work are promising.
So who are we in the midst of so much loss? Yes, we are fearful. Yet in our darkest times we are also called to be humanitarians. I suggest to you, to us all, that a seemingly small act of kindness can ripple through the world and demonstrate our connectedness. We can transfer a virus and create a pandemic, but we can also transfer person to person, one by one, a goodwill that echoes throughout the world.
Christalie Kuglin and Jan Matney