We live in a strange time as most of us self-isolate to slow down the spread of COVID-19. But even as most of us spend the vast amount of our time at home, we read reports of bigotry showing up in shocking ways. On March 19, 2020, President Trump started calling COVID-19 the "China Virus." Condemned for this biased phrasing by numerous leaders, including Center for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield, after going back and forth on whether he should continue with this derogatory phrase, Trump finally ceased using it several days later. But, on March 25, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo encouraged foreign ministers from the G7 (Group of 7 leading industrialized democracies) to use the term "Wuhan Virus." That same week, The New York Times published an article, "Spit On, Yelled At, Attacked: Chinese-Americans Fear for Their Safety." Times of stress and fear cause many people to demonize the "other" and, in the worst cases, attack them. And, when leaders stir up such sentiments it aggravates an already difficult situation.
As reported in The Seattle Times on April 11, 2020, former Washington State Governor Gary Locke, who is Chinese-American, said, "There is one priority that matters in America right now: stopping this virus and saving lives. So I have no tolerance for the same old politics of distraction and division. We need leaders who understand we can only get through this crisis together--as Americans of every creed, color and background."
Yet we are heartened by those who give us hope! They serve others tirelessly by coming to work as healthcare professionals, grocery store and pharmacy workers, delivery drivers, IT professionals keeping our much-used technology infrastructure going, and so many more. There are neighbors who check in on older people to make sure they are healthy and offer to pick up groceries for them. People are turning their "little free libraries" into "little free pantries." People with sewing talent are crafting face masks for others. And, business owners are transforming their manufacturing from whiskey to hand-sanitizer, from upholstered furniture to face masks, and much more.
One of our favorite examples of spreading delight comes from the Playing for Change Foundation with their posting on YouTube of Tom Johnston of Doobie Brothers fame along with talented musicians of various ethnic traditions from around the world sharing the hope-filled song, "Listen to the Music." Give it a listen....maybe more than once! It will leave you smiling and in this season of Passover, Easter and moving toward Ramadan, we pray that it will bring you joy and give you confidence that we will find our way through these dark days.