Is there anything good about the COVID-19 pandemic?
What kind of a question is that? When we read or watch the news, we hear the stories of the hundreds of thousands of cases, the deaths all around the world, the lost jobs and hungry families. Now, none of that is good.
But there is something good about what’s happening with this virus. Dr. Andy Ward, a Christian psychologist, pointed out in a recent webinar for us that perhaps for the first time in the history of the world, we are all experiencing the same thing at the same time with real-time information.
(On a side note, consuming a constant stream of this real-time information is not good for us. Too much news negatively affects our emotional and mental health. Especially during this time, I’d suggest limiting your media intake. Play a game with your family, read a novel, take a walk, call and encourage a friend—whatever you can think of that is productive or restful or fun(!) and gives you a break from the news.)
What’s good about this common experience? This is a big ask, but let’s set aside all the politics, all the wrangling, the fighting over who caused it, over whether more could have been done sooner, the need for supplies, masks, treatments, and the sniping back and forth between news stations and public figures.
Looking past all of that, instead consider with me a simple word: empathy.
Growing empathy during COVID-19
The global crisis has allowed us to see people around the world with common fears and concerns. Some of those people get sick, and sadly some of them struggle and die.
Similarly, if it’s not been the virus, we’ve all experienced some degree of “sheltering in.” And we’ve got some restaurant, coffee shop or business we frequent that’s been affected. We know people who’ve lost jobs or are anxiously awaiting to discover whether they will still have a job. More than likely we know nurses, doctors, aides or assistants fighting on the front lines.
All this moves us to empathize. We feel. We experience what someone else is feeling.
That’s a good thing. It’s a powerful thing to share a common experience. We need that. Perhaps in our world, we’d gotten to the place where the rhetoric and the division was too loud, and perhaps a COVID-19 pandemic can remind us that we are all people on a similar journey. We all desire safety, security, love and meaning.
Perhaps if we let that sink in, that feeling of empathy, we can turn again to a more powerful civil discussion of the ailments of the world and move towards positive solutions empathetically together.
Photo by Gus Moretta on Unsplash
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Published April 24, 2020
Topics: Culture Commentary