The worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 quickly spread to over 1.3 million cases, with a death toll of more than 78 thousand, according to the Wall Street Journal. The virus evokes feelings of fear and danger worldwide. In the face of this uncertainty, however, the best of human nature emerges.
It’s impossible to diminish the severity of the emotional and financial difficulties caused by the pandemic. Mass unemployment, closed schools, health concerns, diminishing medical supplies and quarantine orders that render people anxious and isolated all plague the world, with no end in sight. However, the shared devastation is causing solidarity among people around the world.
After largely overcoming the novel coronavirus, China began sending supplies and medics to countries all over the world. Taiwan plans to donate 100,000 masks to the United States, and in return the United States will reserve 300,000 hazmat suits for Taiwan. Chinese billionaire Jack Ma is donating millions of testing kits and masks to the United States and all 54 nations of Africa. Germany, France and the United Kingdom began sending supplies to Iran. On a global scale, nations have been putting aside disputes as they come together to fight the common enemy of COVID-19.
Joining forces to provide necessary medical supplies also occurs more and more at a domestic level. Hockey equipment manufacturer Bauer recently shifted from making shields for Hockey helmets to making medical visors for doctors and nurses fighting the pandemic. Also, a volunteer team at MIT is working to develop a low cost ventilator design. The team plans to publish the design online for free, and estimates the cost will be $100 worth of parts as opposed to the usual $30,000. Crafty people around America volunteer their time to sew medical masks out of any fabric available. In fact, college senior Ashley Lawrence recently began sewing masks designed to assist the deaf and hard of hearing. Individuals and organizations alike have taken up the important task of providing medical supplies wherever needed, and often for nothing in return.
One can find other inspiring stories of giving and selflessness almost anywhere. A group in New York known as Invisible Hands sends volunteers to pick up groceries for those in high risk demographics. James Campbell of England raised over $32,000 for medical charities by live-streaming a marathon he ran- one he ran by circling his 20-foot yard for five hours, no less.
In light of the isolating effects of quarantine, many people go the extra mile just to cheer others up. In communities across America, people put stuffed animals in windows for children to find while on walks. Groups arrange “social distancing parades” to celebrate birthdays, friends catch up on Zoom calls and celebrities read bedtime stories on social media for kids with working parents. It seems humans everywhere are trying to make the effects of the outbreak a little bit easier on each other.
The pandemic also shows people the importance of society’s essential workers: healthcare professionals, first responders, janitors, delivery drivers, grocery workers and many more unsung heroes who continue to work during the outbreak. All over social media one can find people thanking these workers for putting their lives on the line, advocating for them, and donating money to help them out.
In every crisis throughout history, heroes emerged by making the choice to help others.
Victor E. Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. In Man’s Search for Meaning, a book he wrote about his time in the concentration camps, he writes, “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms- to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Like the men Frankl wrote of, history will look kindly on the people who made the choice to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether that meant standing on the frontlines and saving lives or simply buying groceries for someone in need. Coronavirus may keep people six feet apart, but its effects continue to bring humans closer together.