Our shared sense of purpose – Something good happened in Erie, 3/20/2020

No, this does not seem to be an especially easy week to find a “good news” story, thanks for asking. Living anywhere in America today feels instead like playing on the beach as a tsunami wave approaches, and the realization sets in that you can’t outrun it; the only thing left to do now is close your eyes, wait, and hope.

It’s not that we’re doing nothing. We just threw the entire American economy at the tsunami wave, hoping to dampen it but knowing we cannot entirely knock it down. Some measure of destruction seems destined to come our way. The only question is how much.

Even in times like these, though, when a plague is at our door and the economy just disappeared and the man leading our country’s response is stricken with an entirely different affliction that prevents him from telling the truth, there is always a silver lining. Let’s bring in Fred Rogers to deliver the silver lining:

There are helpers out here. You can be one of the helpers. You have the immense power to be there for someone in their hour of need, which may well be coming. The good news in any tragedy is the renewal of that primal ability we humans have to see ourselves in others, and others in ourselves.

So, that’s this week’s good news. It’s that just when the world seemed too complex for anyone to know what the hell was ever going on or what to do about it, leaving us to shout at each other while simultaneously living lives of luxury and anxiousness – life suddenly became very simple this week. Stay home. Protect your health. Protect one another. Everything else comes second.

I am under no illusion that maintaining social distancing will be easy, especially if it drags on through the summer. Still, I am drawn to the idea of an impending tragedy forcing us to get back to basics.

Worried about how much of your money to put in stocks and how much in bonds? Well, worry no more – the stock market damn near entirely disappeared this week. Problem solved.

Worried about how in the world you’re going to meet that deadline at work? What work? Everyone is working from home now, if at all, where kids frolic (or cry) loudly in the background of a conference call or a dog barks or God knows what happens. There is no judgment. Just be on your honor to do the best you can.

Worried about whether you’ve wasted your God-given talents to a life of mediocrity and missed opportunities? Don’t be. You can be great – right now – for people in your community that need you. In fact, all that’s required right now to be a hero is to stay home and maybe order some takeout. You have that power in you. I know you do.

In an effort to live by Mr. Rogers‘ example, let’s close this week by highlighting some of the helpers:

Josh Gad, voice of Frozen’s Olaf, hosts online story time for kids.

Distilleries convert from producing beer to hand sanitizer.

Erie to stop issuing most parking tickets due to COVID-19 outbreak.

County, ECGRA direct $300,000 to COVID-19 relief efforts.

Be good to each other. Stay home. Look for the helpers.

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