We are going through unprecedented times in the history of mankind. Never before the whole world had come to a standstill in a matter of a few weeks. Never before countries have shut down their borders, companies have ordered their employees to work from home and airlines have grounded their fleet and stood down their workforces.
And this is just a tiny snippet of what is going on.
Thousands of people have died.
Each day the news is more grave, more devastating.
At times like these, the natural tendency is to reach for more news. But is it the best way to face this crisis?
Staying up-to-date with news is a good thing: we need to know the seriousness of the situation and what authorities are asking us to do to limit spreading the virus.
But too much news is an invitation to negativity in life.
Negativity breeds more negativity which causes dread, panic and anger, the very things we need to avoid.
At times like these, we need to be compassionate, understanding and grateful.
Social distancing and self-isolation have provided a unique opportunity to slow down and reflect. Not the usual kind of slowing down and reflecting we are expected to do with mindfulness training but a deeper kind encompassing the whole humanity.
We are the most resilient species on this planet. We have come out of many crises before. We will come out of this one too.
Yes, this one is not like anyone before.
Yes, the worst hasn’t even arrived yet.
Yes, the economic impact of this pandemic will be more than anyone could imagine at the moment.
But we will come out of it by staying together, looking after each other, helping each other, by responding to it like a unit, by fighting it together.
What can a writer do to make a difference?
At times like these, a writer’s job is to spread hope.
You should observe, listen, think and then write. The lesson we learn fighting crises like these must be captured for the next generations.
Write the stories of what is going around you.
Write the stories of people clapping from their balconies to hail our nurses, doctors and health professionals for the care they are providing to the sick and vulnerable.
Write the stories of people singing to each other across the empty squares, keeping their windows open, so that those who are alone may hear the sound of family around them.
Write the stories of hotels and restaurant owners who are offering free meals and delivery to the housebound and of the young woman who is busy spreading flyers with her phone number through the neighborhood so that the elders may have someone to call on.
Write the stories of churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples are preparing to welcome and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary.
You should write, and you should write like never before.
You should write letters to your great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren telling them how humanity got together to fight a crisis like never before.
You should tell them how a total stranger in the supermarket gave you the last can of tomatoes.
You should tell them that working from home, you put in extra, extra hours even when no one was counting because you were grateful you still have a job and you want to give more to your employer who is going through a bigger hardship to keep his business afloat.
You write to them that you kept on working even when your employer couldn’t pay you because you thought that is the best use of your time and it might help your employer to save the business.
That you learned to live with less, learned to spend more time at home, learned to waste less.
You should write from the heart. So when your great-grandchildren ask you what did you do when the crisis hit, you can tell them that you. spread hope.