March 24th, the Virus, and “Heroes”

MARCH 24th

First I need to mention the significance of this date to me.  As I write this it is March 24, 2020.  On March 24, 1973 I was baptized and became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Even I am probably not able to think of all the amazing ramifications of that decision.

I have written some about that in the past.  I was 15 years old, and I knew the gospel was true.  I was so happy to be allowed to be baptized.  I had been afraid my Mom would not let me.  I am so grateful she did.  I am so grateful for my friend who told me about the things she believed.

Because of that decision, I met Vaughn ❤️.

I have learned a lot through my life’s experience, and everything since that baptism has been seen through the lens of my deep beliefs.  I can’t really even imagine what my life would be like if I had not joined the Church.  I doubt I would rely on the Lord like I do.

The Virus

So, here we all are, most of us in the whole world, affected in some way by this virus, Corona Virus/Covid 19.  It is almost surreal.  I have never experienced anything like this in my life.  Our “normalcy bias” has been thrown into uncertainty.

We don’t know what will happen.  Will this virus run its course in a few weeks here in the USA?  Will things then go back to normal?  Will we then have toilet paper again?😊

The longer it lasts, the more lasting and deep impression it will make on us, I think.  If people lose someone they love, they will not ever be the same.  People are marked by what they experience.

My grandfather could never drink the last little bit of milk in the glass, even to the end of his life, because when he was young, there had been “dregs” in his milk that you didn’t want to drink.  It was never clear to me what those “dregs” were, but they altered his life in that tiny way.

Will we at least never take toilet paper for granted again?  But, if the sheltering in place lasts very long, if our economy changes drastically, and especially if we lose people we love, we will be changed in much greater ways.  Maybe in ways we don’t imagine yet.

I have seen this profound quote from Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring going around on Facebook:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

So we are in the midst of an interesting time that has been given us right now.  At least from our current earthly perspective, we didn’t choose it, and we don’t want it.  So, what do we do with it?  Do we fight against it changing us?  Do we just try to weather it so we can go back to exactly how life has been?  That would probably be the comfortable thing for us.  But I think it is probably not the purpose of our life, nor the reality of it, for us to be “comfortable” for a very long time.

“Heroes”

I put the word “heroes” in quotes, because I think it is WAY overused, particularly by the media.  I think for the word to continue to really mean anything it should be reserved for those who demonstrate extreme willing sacrifice of self.  I am willing to call those who make a choice to sacrifice or risk their lives for others heroes.

There are those in this virus crisis who are, and will be, heroes.  Those who will risk and give their lives.  But we won’t all have the opportunity or the call to do that, even if this drags on and on.

But we will all have many choices to make.  I have seen many choices being made already.  We have all seen great division at this time already.  We have seen arguing, fighting, and hoarding.  We have seen the ramping up of political division, name calling, even those wishing the virus on others.  We have seen extreme distrust, fear, and oppression.  We have seen people being cavalier with the lives of others, either because they don’t believe in the threat, or the way it is handled, or because they are in a low risk group and somehow cannot put themselves in a high risk person’s shoes, or feel their fears.  We have seen disregard of the elderly.

We have also seen great kindness.  We have seen many government officials doing the best they can.  We have seen those in vital jobs continuing on, and working many extra hours, even when they are sometimes at great risk.  We have seen beautiful poetry about love and life and recovering nature in the midst of this.  We have seen free streaming concerts, free classes, and neighborhoods organizing to get supplies to those who should not go out.  We have seen some businesses, banks, and landlords defer and forgive bills.  I have seen friends do Facebook live’s sharing their talents and hope.  People are meeting on line through Zoom calls or in other ways to cheer each other and stay in touch.  We are blessed by the technology we have to allow this.

There are so many other examples of reactions to this situation we are all in.  Some very good, some very bad.  We probably all have some good and some not so good reactions.  But this is the time given to us.  We should be intentional about what we do with it and within it.

On Sunday, I felt really blessed.  I had heard some great, inspiring stuff.  I was pondering and praying about many things, and for many people, and I felt so very filled with love.  That day, and yesterday, I felt very clear about what my focus is to be for the rest of my life.  That focus has to be love, and doing whatever meager things I can to help people feel loved and cared for.  I often feel sad about how little I am able to do at all, much less for others.  But this is the circumstance and the time I have been given, and I am capable of love.

I think we often think that whatever we believe is the one right belief system.  That whatever group, or groups we are in are the right ones, the true ones, the better ones.  This engenders pride, which is a dangerous thing.  But we actually all have so much in common, no matter what political, religious, or other groups we identify with.

Amongst my friends there are hugely divergent opinions.  I believe they all have good hearts, and want the best for everyone and for humanity.  I think that every one of my friends and family, no matter what religion they are, or if they are no religion, or if they are atheists, all have some version of the same belief within them.  This is where I think we can “lay down our arms” and come together in this commonality.  If we use this belief to inform how we handle this time we have been given, then I think we will be all right.

A friend of mine has been working on a very interesting web site, where she is studying different religions, different belief systems, different traditions, and finding the commonalities.  On that site she posted this chart, which is all about this common belief I am talking about:

the-golden-rule chart

In order to follow this “golden rule” we have to be able to develop empathy for other people’s points of view.  We have to be realize we can be wrong, even when we are so sure we are right, and so sure that what we believe is actually the fact.  There were those who thought even God could not sink the Titanic.  We don’t want to admit our error only as we are sinking.

I won’t give examples I have seen of this thinking that we are the right and rational and faithful ones, but I will say it is harmful, and causes division and fear.  We may be right, but what would we feel like if we believed the opposite of what we do?  There are potentially life and death decisions being made.  Those who think they or their loved ones are at risk of death, even if you don’t, need to be treated as you would want to be treated if you were them.

Although I am so weak and fall so short, these are the things I want to do and be, with this time we have been given:  Be kind.  Be patient.  Be calm.  Be peaceful.  Be wise.  Be cheerful.  Be grateful.  Put myself in other’s shoes.  Notice needs.  Fill the needs I can.  Be brave.  And be filled with love for everyone, and let them know that as much as I can.

A while ago I thought about, or maybe I was asked, if I could be any hero in any book I had read, who would I want to be.  I knew immediately.  I would want to be Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings.

Sam’s Speech

“It’s like the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad has happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines, it’ll shine out the clearer. I know now folks in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something. That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”

I think every soul knows that love is the thing.  There’s some good in this world, for sure, and it all stems from love.  Love each other.

 

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