James Matheson and Andrew Reed were the ones who said America was great because she was good, and that if we cease to be good, we’ll lose our greatness. I don’t live in a bubble. I know there is evil in the world, and this country has often failed to live up to the wisdom in her founding documents. (I’m a middle school history teacher in a Title I school, so I’ve had some great discussions with my students on this.) But one thing I notice: when life gets tough here the inevitable question is, “How can I help?”
Yet, as we are all cooped up because of Covid-19, I can’t help but notice that there are literally dozens of pleas for help for the less fortunate in our country in the mail, on TV, and online. We don’t want elderly people to be lonely, the unemployed to be hungry, kids to be stressed out, or shelter pets to go unadopted. Honestly, the first reaction of most Americans I’ve seen is, “What do you need?” Even for those without finances to contribute, we send pretty pictures and jokes on social media, and we look up ways to invent games for kids who can’t go to the park. No one can deny that America has a tender heart and a great sense of humor.
While we may disagree with the way some things are happening, overall we’ve seen the good intentions of people–even the self-absorbed Hollywood types–for the past six weeks. I’m one of many super extroverts who are healthy as a horse, but are sitting home so we don’t infect an elderly person. (And if you really want to help a writer, you know all those books you’ve been reading? Leave a REVIEW. It’s not hard. You give your opinion on Facebook all the time. Same principle.)
How many have used their talents to make others’ lives better or worked long hours to keep people healthy and safe? Our hearts goes out to small businesses that are trying to stay afloat, so we pick up that extra item in their drive thru or call ahead for that dinner we really could make at home. We check on our neighbors and make sure they have enough. Some of those toilet paper hoarders were donating them to shelters and missions. Some people who have been cleaning for weeks have donated loads of clothing and shoes to charity. Most Americans are givers not takers, and how much better are we for it? I’m glad I live in a country that still believes in treating others as we’d like to be treated. Tragedy can bring out the best or worst in people. I’m glad I’ve been seeing the best.