Foster strong sense of solidarity in a time of crisis

Rudyard Harrison

A crisis, though unwelcome, can be an opportunity.

It does not have to be a time of panic and disintegration.

The present health crisis is a stark reality but the really important thing is how we chose to deal with this reality.

Are we going to allow it to reduce us to frightened, paranoid, shadows of our former selves or are we going to face the foe head on, employing our considerable reserves of courage, fortitude and creativity?

We are stronger than we think, we have weathered many storms and this will no doubt not be the last one.

Above all, let us foster a strong sense of human solidarity. We are in this together, no one is completely immune.

If we stand together we will survive and conquer. We cannot afford to treat others with suspicion, disdain or prejudice.

This cloud will pass, let us not permit it to blot out our common humanity.

We need to take especially good care of ourselves.

Remember the airline instructions re the use of oxygen masks? “Place the mask firmly over your face before you attempt to assist others.”

We cannot be available to those who are especially vulnerable if we don’t take every precaution ourselves.

The rules are for our own good but more importantly also for the good of others. It is important to focus on the official news channels and not on every rumour that comes our way.

We have been told repeatedly that our senior citizens and those who already have medical conditions that compromise their immune systems are particularly at risk.

There are others who need to be treated with special care and sensitivity. Those who are living with the challenge of depression and anxiety will be finding life very stressful.

Those who have lost their life partners recently, those who have children and grandchildren living overseas, those who have recently relocated and have not yet made new friends, and those who are living alone will be experiencing extra emotional trauma.

There will soon be high levels of feelings of isolation, exclusion and abandonment.

We can reach out to these vulnerable ones via our electronic devices. Make a ‘phone call, send a message, set up a Skype or FaceTime get together.

This is a positive way of using the technology at our disposal.

Treat social media with great care, either withdraw completely or seriously limit your screen time.

Some of us will not only survive if quarantined, we may even thrive.

There are so many interesting activities we can pursue.

Pick up an old hobby, dip into the job jar and do some home improvements, start writing a daily journal entry, dust off the old exercise bike, create a Zen Garden, locate a quiet place for daily meditation, put some new water wise plants in your garden, experiment with some new recipes, search the net for educational opportunities, the list of things we can find to do is almost endless.

Please remember those who are not as fortunate as you are. Those who are forced to stay at home may face serious economic hardships.

It may be very difficult for them to self-isolate, obtain their daily rations or stay connected with loved ones.

Think carefully, there may be a simple way in which you can lighten their burden. Global crises always affect the poor and the powerless more acutely than the economically secure.

Then there are the first responders… We need to do everything we can to support, encourage and protect them.

Our doctors and nurses are in the front line in this viral war. If we are diligent in protecting ourselves and obeying the safety rules, we will reduce the risks they have to take.

The country’s medical resources are not unlimited and need to be reserved for the seriously ill members of the community.

We certainly live in interesting and challenging times. Our sense of good neighbourliness is being severely tested.

Walkers observe each other with a look that says “don’t come too close!”

Shoppers frown and race from isle to aisle in an attempt to extract themselves as soon as possible.

Check-out clerks worry that customers may think they are infected. Family and friends stand apart awkwardly, uncertain how to show their affection.

Please don’t stop smiling or blowing kisses.

This too shall pass, all is not lost, there will be a silver lining.

Let’s fight the good fight with all our might.

Just remember that one day we may be judged according to the level of fairness and compassion we showed during the battle…

Shalom!

Rudyard Harrison is a retired Methodist minister, and a counselor at the Ruach Centre, located at the Somerset West Methodist Church, Coronation Street.