Two mornings ago my wife pulled me in our room and sat me down.
“Listen to some of my plans,” she said.
“I have to go to the hospital next week to see some of my patients. I will be very careful of course.”
By this time having read hundreds of COVID-19 articles, going through this stressful news cycle, and hearing how doctors are the ones who are most at risk, you can imagine what I thought of this plan, especially considering we already had decided on a family quarantine at home.
And of course, when conversations got serious, nagtagalog na ako…
“Baka naman may ibang paraan? Kausapin mo sila online. O baka pwede sila yung papuntahin mo dito. Alam mo naman yung numbers malamang mas malaki, at sa ospital mag-co-converge yung mga maysakit.”
“Hindi ako pwedeng magbigay ng chemo directives kung hindi ko sila ma-diagnose ng maayos. Kailangan ata face to face yon.”
“Alam mo hindi naman risk dyan yung parents natin, ako lang naman at yung mga kasambahay.”
She knew I was referring to my hypertension, which I was diagnosed with last year.
Pauline, in tears already, replied, “Don’t use this emotional blackmail on me. I know the risks, but my patients…need me.”
I guess at that point, God smacked me with a heavenly baseball bat, because I suddenly realized how incredibly selfish I was for thinking just of myself and my family. I thought of all the heroic healthcare workers and doctors out there in the frontlines and I felt shame. One very small way I can help out is not being a burden to my wife.
I stood up and gave her a hug and whispered that if she thinks it’s right, then we have to to do it, we just have to be as cautious as possible. I offered to drive.
In this sudden new world, as we hear about the virus’s exponential spread and the need to practice extreme social distancing, I think the great temptation is to do a complete distancing. The great temptation is thinking we don’t belong to a much bigger family.
“OK I’ll help out, but only as much as I’m absolutely sure there’s no risk.” This sort of thinking sells our humanity sort. We can wash our hands for safety, but we can’t wash our hands of our humanity.
The Jesus Question
One great mental exercise I like using in uncertain situations is asking the “What would Jesus do?” scenario.
I found this very interesting to imagine…what would Jesus do in the time of COVID?
Would Jesus do His long distance healing schtick (Centurion’s daughter, 10 lepers, etc)?
I think the answer is super clear: he wouldn’t compromise like that.
There is actually just one scenario: He will continue to walk and go elbow to elbow with the masses, He will touch people’s faces, embrace people, look them closely in the eyes and heal their body, mind, and soul – with His touch, with His words.
Being fully human and fully embracing the human condition, my guess is that he’ll actually contract COVID. But it won’t stop Him. He’ll just isolate Himself in prayer, heal up for a a couple of weeks….and then go out there again. And again.
We Need You to Step Up
The amazing thing is, we are seeing stories like this propping up in our feeds, from selfless doctors and healthcare workers, to an increasing number of companies doing their share to help out. There are people organizing free online seminars on how to take your business digital, someone creating a safe Minecraft sandbox for kids, people organizing trips for healthcare workers, even Filipino creators sending instructions on how to kit-bash a DIY face-shield.
This is such a widespread, complicated, multi-layered problem that whatever your gifts are, you can help!
Are you great at organizing? writing? talking with empathy? Can you cook? Do you have a platform where people listen? Are you great at consoling? Are you a teacher? A composer? Especially now that we have a bit more time in our hands, there’s just so many ways to use your gifts to contribute.
Don’t just Netflix and chill.
At the very least, we can REACH OUT. Call your friends, and family. Ask your kids to have video conferences with your parents (and lets do more convincing they should absolutely stay at home.) Arrange prayer meetings online. Have conversations. Share ideas on how to help.
Isn’t it just wonderful that technology allows us to extend our humanity with one another despite the forced distancing (can you imagine if this happened in the 90’s?)
In Alan Moore’s Watchmen, Ozymandias hatches a plan to create an alien threat. His objective? To unite all nations against a global, common villain. The ploy works. Ozymandias creates a squid-like alien to raze New York, killing half its population. Realizing there’s a much bigger threat, the nations around the world give up their differences and hostilities with one another and unite to face a common threat.
Friends, we now have our common, global villain.
Let’s all be heroes.