Just how many times will we need to be reminded that love is the answer to many of the challenges in our society these days? I have almost stopped watching the news because I find myself getting upset with what I see and hear going on around me. Increased killings on our streets, people destroying rather than demonstrating, forest fires burning out of control, Covid 19 still taking lives, politicians sounding divisive rather than uniting, and I could go on and on. Where is the love in all this?
I mean real love, the love that calls for the best of what’s in us, the love that reaches out and helps others, the love that goes above and beyond the call of duty and accepts others for who they are as human beings just like us. Do we really believe that robbing, hurting, beating, shooting, and killing others solves the problems in our society? I hope and pray, as we must now take time to slow down and reflect on what we need to do to get our lives back together, that we will see just how to do so in a more loving way than before all this started.
Take the wearing of a face covering, for example. Is that not one of the most unusual things to happen to you? It’s so obvious, so invasive of one’s freedom to breathe and to look like oneself. I’m amazed that people recognize me as I often have a difficult time recognizing my friends behind their masks. It has not, however, prevented me from being myself and greeting others with the respect and dignity they deserve whether they know me or not. Perhaps the mask has made me more sensitive and more inclusive of who I do and don’t greet. How much does a person’s appearance determine my attitude toward them or the way I greet them—or even if I greet them? Have I been hiding behind a “mask” all along?
What about this social distancing guide? I think it’s a “keeper” of a social policy. Think about how we spread all kinds of germs by talking with one another, not to mention singing or shouting or whispering. I know a few people who almost stand on top of me when they speak, and I find myself backing away just to have some space. This social distancing must be very difficult for them, but I see it as a blessing.
Whose mother hasn’t reminded them to wash their hands before sitting down at the dinner table or just any time you have had to touch food or pick up something special or fragile like a baby brother or sister or special object? I know that hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap have become precious commodities now, and I wonder why we didn’t pay more attention to them before this coronavirus spread. Perhaps we’ll have less flu this season because of this new awareness of germs. Hospitals have known about the spread of germs in that environment for decades and have now become more vigilant about protecting patients, staff, and visitors from germs and viruses that they’ve been dealing with for a long time.
Even these simple requests/guidelines from the CDC and others are really a few ways we can show the love necessary to “break the chain” of hurt. Do we really want to hurt others by our behavior, or do we want to “love others as we love ourselves”? How much do you love yourself?
Sster Mary Thill is a Sylvania Franciscan Sister. She recently retired from Mercy Health – St. Vincent Medical Center and looks forward to being and doing in a new time and in new ways.