On my way home last week, I watched Midway, a movie about a major World War II battle in the Pacific. Throughout, the director showed both sides – the US and Japanese – in an honorable way. In fact, the director and producers dedicated the film to the sailors from both sides at the end of the movie.
The film reminded me of the many wars fought throughout time on this small planet. They were waged for different reasons: power, resources, influence, retribution, etc. The one common factor: one set of humans and their tools against another set of humans and their corresponding tools.
We humans are now locked in another battle. This one, though, is different. Rather than it being against each other, it’s all of us against something that doesn’t care where we are from, what we look like, what car we drive, etc. COVID-19 can affect us all.
A teacher once taught a lesson about loving our neighbors. He did so in dramatic fashion, making a member of a despised culture the ‘hero.’
Here’s the short version: A man had been beaten up, robbed and left for dead. Many people who were well thought of in ‘their neighborhood’ walked by, excusing their lack of lending assistance for multiple reasons. Then a member of a despised culture stopped, showed mercy, humility, and love by helping the man and setting him up to be healed with no thought of repayment.
The punchline: the person from a despised ‘neighborhood’ had been the true neighbor. He’d loved the injured as he did himself regardless of anything else – race, creed, color or religion.
How big is your neighborhood? At camp, we’ve got a fun bunch of us. But if we compare our camp with all the camps in the US, it’s a very, very small neighborhood.
Our Earth is pretty big, right? It’s measured at 24,901 miles around the equator. However, when you compare the Earth to our solar system, it’s pretty small. Compare it to our larger galaxy, it’s smaller still.
For comparison sake, it would take you about 45 hours to circumnavigate the Earth on a plane. To get to Pluto and back, it would take 25 years and a really big rocket ship. To edge of our galaxy and back? That’s currently estimated at 220 million years.
So, when you compare it to the larger context, our Earth – our neighborhood – is pretty small. Mr. Fred Rogers touched on this a lot over his many decades of service. He didn’t care what you looked like, where you were from, or what was in your bank account. You were his neighbor and he treated you with kindness, patience, respect, and love. Period.
In other words, we are all neighbors. And, until we find life off world, we are the only neighbors we’ve got.
Our Current Battle
In case you haven’t noticed, there is a virus in the neighborhood. We’ve got to work together to stamp it out.
A powerful politician once admonished his ‘troops’ not to let a crisis go to waste. Whether you agreed or not with his politics or timing is irrelevant. This is one such crisis but not in the terms he meant.
This is not an opportunity to place blame. It’s an opportunity to realize that all of us in this tiny little neighborhood are in a fight against something that threatens us all. The good news? There are very simple and powerful ways to defeat it.
First, remain calm and patient. We humans have gotten through much worse. Secondly, wash your hands really well. If you aren’t sure how, here you go. The third is stay away from other people as much as you can for the time being, especially if you feel crummy.
Campers, we are most worried about those with challenged immune systems and the elderly. It would be neighborly of us to do our best to reduce the spread of this disease any way we can. (Here’s a great infographic that explains things well to young and old people alike.)
So, while this time is certainly strange for us, it’s also an opportunity to remember that we humans, despite our differences, are all neighbors. Let’s decide to be good ones for each other.
Heck, if enough of us work at this long enough, maybe everyone will start acting the same way. When that happens, our Earth will feel a little bit more like a summer at Weequahic. Talk with you next week.