Love Thy Neighbor - A novel idea?
By IVY JACOBS
Just Ask Me
ESSENTIAL: According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the word "essential" is an adjective meaning "necessary or needed."
With the arrival of COVID-19 in Indiana, Gov. Eric Holcomb implemented a Stay-At-Home mandate to help stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, and the meaning of that word took the forefront. Only activities deemed "essential" - extremely important or absolutely necessary to daily life - were going to become vital during the coming weeks as residents learned what "social distancing" was.
I've had the privilege of covering several stories in our community about people rising to what is best: Volunteers packing sack lunches to make sure people have food, people making and providing cloth facemasks to anyone who needed them, to interviewing "frontline" workers helping in times of crisis.
It's those moments - a community stepping up together to help out - makes this job so worthwhile.
There's a growing number of "bad apples" on the rise, and it appears many have forgotten a valuable lesson from the past - The Golden Rule.
Anything that involves another person helping me - from a cashier to the nurse at my doctor's office - I stop them for just a moment and say, "Thank you for working during this tough time, and risking your health. Please stay safe and have a better day."
I recently said that to what appeared to be a very tired and frazzled cashier working at a fast-food restaurant drive-thru. They looked at me like I was crazy, saying, "Excuse me?"
When I quickly repeated myself, they actually struggled with tears.
"I've worked every day since this all began. Who knew I was considered essential, but apparently I am," they softly said. "I would really like to be home with my little one for two weeks. So many people think this is a vacation, but it's not."
When I apologized, their eyes seemed to brighten behind the facemask.
"You are the first person to say that to me in three weeks. Thank you."
By the time I pulled up to the window to get my first fast-food lunch since March 1, several of the employees had taken a second to come to thank me before asking me to pull forward to pick up my order.
The manager brought my lunch to me, "So many people have been rude and difficult. We've been yelled at because our supplies are limited due to this situation. One person threw their drink back in the window the other day because they said it was flat. Not everyone is like that, but we are seeing more angry people every day. It's hard to put a smile on your face and serve people right now. We all thank God we are wearing masks at times. The staff needed to hear that. I needed to hear that. Please, have a blessed day."
What I said was a matter of seconds. It was shocking that no one else was willing to take the time for a simple "thank you." To explain this moment in writing took much more time than how it really happened, less than three minutes, tops.
COVID-19 has helped many people rise to the challenge and extend a servant's heart to others. However, the number of frightened people rising to become bitter and insolent as the pandemic continues across the nation, and our state is escalating.
I feel the level of complacency is even higher.
COMPLACENCY: A feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like.
Have you ever seen the 1950 black and white movie "The Next Voice You Hear"? (If not, I suggest you watch it soon. Try YouTube or Tuner Classic Movies to view it.)
One night, a voice interrupts a radio program to say: "This is God. I'll be with you for the next few days." Listeners hear God's voice convey brief but powerful messages on different radio channels in different languages around the world at the same time (at 8:30) for six evenings.
The vintage movie (maybe even a bit hooky by today's standards) focuses on a family living in a small community dealing with the realization, at first overwhelming and frightening, that God is reaching out to them. Some believe others are skeptical, but ultimately God wants humanity's attention to get one point across "Love Thy Neighbor."
I hope the COVID-19 pandemic will help create the potential for better relationships within marriages, families, friends, and communities, thus creating better states, nations, and ultimately a better united and peaceful world for everyone.
It's OK; I've been accused of being a Pollyanna before, I can take it. But, this time, I hope it comes true. Be safe, and stay healthy.