While social media, national and global news outlets, and even conversations between friends and family, are saturated with the devastating impact of COVID-19, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the far reaching damage that the virus has had, and will continue to have on our communities, economy and mental health. However, as the pandemic continues to spread throughout the country and death tolls increase, incredible acts of kindness, compassion and global unification can be seen within communities and beyond to support, and protect, those most vulnerable at this time.

In previous dark times, such as  the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and World Wars, hidden heroes within our communities demonstrated extraordinary gestures of generosity in a time when fear and uncertainty can drive others to selfishness and greed, and the COVID-19 pandemic has been no different.

There has been an outpouring of immense gratitude to healthcare professionals who are required to work longer shifts with less staff and limited equipment to cope with the extent of the crisis. Scenes from Italy and Spain showed streets of residents cheering and applauding healthcare workers, recognizing the relentless determination to manage the spread of infection, while putting themselves at risk, and therefore being required to isolate themselves from friends and family.

Further examples of public service selflessness can be seen as schools close across the country and children’s education is compromised; teachers are offering free tuition advice and resources on Facebook to assist and support parents beginning the daunting task of home schooling their children.

A global recognition of those most vulnerable to the virus, notably the elderly and those with cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, and compromised immune systems has lead many communities and individuals to offer free help collecting mail, groceries, urgent supplies such as medication or even a friendly phone call to those self-isolating. A woman in the United Kingdom designed a postcard template for those offering assistance to fill out and distribute around neighborhoods with contact details for vulnerable to contact. Grocery stores, and other locales have dedicated specific opening times only for those most vulnerable, and those assisting the most vulnerable, as a preventative measure as families across the country begin self-quarantine; meaning they can avoid large crowds, long lines and limited availability of products.

In addition to grass-root community support, help is being offered between nations such as Chinese donations of medical supplies such as face masks, respirators, automatic ventilators as part of a 30-ton equipment donation, organized by the Chinese Red Cross.  to help treat the virus were delivered by Chinese medical professionals in Italy, which has been the worst affected country with close to five thousand fatalities and rising.

Despite the tragic volume of deaths following the outbreak, Italy, Spain, Lebanon and Israel managed to temporarily suspend social isolation during lockdown by performing from their balconies, singing together, playing instruments and even holding exercises classes together to create a sense of unity through creativity.

The financial implications of the COVID-19 virus have been devastating to millions across the globe as businesses have been forced to close, leaving many unemployed, self-employed individuals making critical decisions on the future of their businesses and entire sectors being significantly hit, such as tourism and nightlife. In response to the far widespread economic damage, wealthy individuals such as NBA player’s Kevin Love and Zion Williams of the New Orleans Pelicans have donated thousands of dollars to help arena and support staff while the basketball season is suspended. This appears to have begun a trend, with more NBA players following suit, donating up to $100,000 to struggling families in this uncertain time. On Williams’ Instagram he wrote, “These are the folks who make our games possible, creating the perfect environment for our fans and everyone involved in the organization. This is a small way for me to express my support and appreciation for these wonderful people.”

Last week too, Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks also told the world that he was going to continue to pay employees of the American Airlines Center as if NBA games were continuing “It was one of the first things that crossed my mind, in that, when we postponed games, those folks who do all the jobs you mentioned aren’t going to get paid. People who are working by the hour aren’t going to get paid,” Cuban explained. “So, we put together a program where we’re going to pay them as if those games took place. We would have had a game coming up tomorrow, and we’ll pay them as if that game happened.[1]

Performers such as Ricky Gervais and Erykah Badu have utilized their Instagram platform to provide free entertainment to those in quarantine and self-isolation, Museum are posting virtual tours and even the Metropolitan Opera in New York City have begun streaming performances every night until they reopen to provide distraction and entertainment.

These outstanding examples of benevolence and generosity demonstrate how a global disaster such as the COVID-19 virus can remedy the increasing tension, hostility and division between us. Social media platforms like twitter appeared to be chiefly utilized to argue, troll and belittle, but now are being used as platforms to spread hope, unity and assistance to those in need and most vulnerable.

While we have seemingly little control over the devastation caused by the virus, these acts of kindness serve to remind us that we can decide how to respond to the pandemic; and how much more beneficial it is to society to choose kindness and love. There is a recovery slogan that states I cant, but we can, and the global uniting of people, resources, love and digital connection in our mutual effort to protect the elderly and most vulnerable from this illness is recovery at its best. Today, the world as a whole is sacrificing its financial stability and freedom, whilst following direction and doing all it can to protect its own.

Sources:

[1] https://www.foxnews.com/media/mark-cuban-coronavirus-nba-shutdown-pay-arena-employees accessed 27/03/2020)