One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten is that you don’t really know someone until you’ve seen them in crisis. That could be the death of a loved one, financial hardship or getting very sick.
The idea is that most people can be kind when they are comfortable and happy, but when their life is falling apart around them how do they react?
Although the coronavirus crisis has had moments where we’ve seen some nastiness in people, (if you’re buying pallets of toilet paper you’re acting like a spoiled brat,) by and large people have responded with empathy.
It’s easy to feel down about humanity.
Things have been really rough these last few years. It seems like every day we hear about another school shooting or hate crime, another instance of directionless malignant malice thrown on the pile.
But during this crisis, even with the lockdown and the fear, with almost everyone having their lives, their plans and their routines upended, people are being good to each other.
Despite this panic, the majority of people I’ve seen and interacted with since we started social distancing have been kind and caring. There is a supportive camaraderie, I’ve had perfect strangers ask me how I’m doing as I walk by and actually mean it.
Stories of people holding impromptu concerts on their balconies to raise spirits or generous tips being left to food service workers who could be severely impacted by their restaurant’s closures are popping up every day.
These actions raise from lighthearted pick-me-ups to generous acts that will dramatically improve the lives of complete strangers. It is heartening to know that although the chaos that defines so much of our lives today, that many people haven’t lost their decency.
Many of these people are suffering just like the people they are going out of their way to help. They are being their best at a time where it would be easy, even understandable, to be at their worst.
Although most are handling this well, there are some reactions that border on apocalyptic.
Because many peoples’ frame of reference for a major crisis is dominated by “Mad Max” and “The Walking Dead,” people have begun stockpiling guns and ammo. Presumably to protect their dragon’s hoard of toilet paper from bandits? I guess?
This disease isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And with Trump planning to end social distancing to boost the economy, the pain it causes could get much worse.
But I think that we will blunt the worst of it if the outpourings of kindness and humanity we have seen so far are anything to go off of.
It’s true that these are difficult times. We are facing a pandemic and quarantine unlike anything in recent memory.
But given our response, I could hardly be prouder of my fellow human beings.