The novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, continues to spread and cause chaos worldwide. But it’s also inspiring beautiful acts of kindness around the nation.
Young people are preparing meals for their senior fellow citizens, millennials are offering to assist elderly friends and colleagues set up virtual doctor’s appointments and online social gatherings, children are leaving postcards, paintings, and care-packages on the doorsteps of elderly neighbors and those with pre-existing health conditions who are most at risk of suffering at the hands of the coronavirus.
A psychology professor, Dacher Keltner of UCLA Berkeley, suggests that kindness has always been a central aspect of human nature going right back to our ancestors because it helped us survive. Out on the harsh savannah it was kindness that prompted close bonds and cooperation among our early descendants, allowing them to band together to share food, defend themselves against predators, solve problems, and raise children.
This is equally true today and has becomes strikingly evident in this time of crisis. Shelly Taylor, another psychology professor at UCLA, suggests that “we are fundamentally a nurturant species” and that times of threat trigger an instinctive response that she calls “tending and befriending” where we step in to protect others (tend) and band together against the threat (befriend).
Becky Wass, from the county of Cornwall in the U.K., created a postcard stating “Hello! If you are self-isolating, I can help,” with space for people to fill out their contact details and whether they would like help with shopping, posting mail, or simply a phone call. Wass wrote on her Facebook page “Let’s make kindness go viral. Feel free to share/print/use.” Wass’s husband, Jonny Green, posted an image of the card on Twitter on Friday, urging people to wash their hands and print it out. The card quickly went viral on social media with the hashtag #viralkindness.
Grocery store chains across the United States are hosting special hours for the elderly and people with weakened immune systems so they can safely shop for essentials during the coronavirus pandemic. People over the age of 60 and immuno-deficient individuals are at higher risk of dying from the highly contagious COVID-19 than young and healthy members of the general population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On March 19th, Florida supermarket chain Publix (a well-known Palm Beach staple) became one of the latest major grocery stores to announce special hours for senior citizens. Publix customers who are 65 and older can shop at store locations nationwide on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. beginning next week. The company’s pharmacy will also open at 7 a.m. on those days to serve the senior population. Stores will also close no later than 8 p.m. (rather than the usual 10 p.m.) so team members can clean & restock.
In Cleveland, Ohio, two third-graders- Evie Pifer and Deena Abdallah- left a message of love, constructed with stones and pinecones, in the driveway of Catherine and Ron McCutcheon, their neighbors who are in their 70s. The girls, who usually visit and talk to the McCutcheons regularly, wanted to continue to express their care while practicing the recommended social distancing.
In another example of community spirit, videos were shared over social media of Italian citizens- the country currently most hardly hit by COVID-19- singing and dancing during a nationwide lockdown. The videos, from various cities and towns, show people singing from balconies and windows in an attempt to boost morale.
The pace, intensity, and magnitude of the coronavirus has the whole world reeling. By committing yourself to kindness during this crisis you are helping others, helping yourself, and helping the world. Now more than ever we must pause, be patient, and choose to be kind.