A window to our souls

A window to our souls

Friday, March 27, 2020

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Just a few months ago, the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was this ethereal disease that only afflicted those in another world — not our little island.

Social media once again plays a pivotal role in perpetuating a false sense of reality versus fiction. If it remains behind the screen, is it real?

Fast-forward a few months and the virus is no longer an otherworldly concept affecting only those across the oceans that separate us from the rest of the world. The coronavirus has made its way beyond our phone screen and into our world, bringing to light something more dangerous to our island's shores than the virus itself — the innermost fears, deeply hidden prejudices, and inherently selfish and self-preserving instincts that exist in human beings. Feeding off these tendencies are panic and chaos.

It didn't take long. Those who were able flocked to supermarkets to stock up on essentials, leaving little to nothing behind for those who were not able to get there early. Even worse is the price gouging: an attempt to benefit from the plight of others — the mercenary will of some individuals to take advantage of those less fortunate.

Discrimination and fear showed their ugly faces with reports of taxi drivers refusing transportation to the very nurses who are at the front line of this war, fighting for us all. Social media comments expressing blame and hate towards the Chinese circled. Why do we feel the need to blame others when we are faced with a crisis?

If nothing else, this virus has opened a window for us to peek inside the souls of ourselves, our neighbours, our friends and even the strangers who pass us by. It has stripped us down to the core of who we are beneath it all: beyond class, race, wealth and health. Who are you when faced with all the uncomfortable feelings and vulnerabilities to which the virus has exposed us?

During these times of panic and desperation, the simple acts of kindness from one human to another, not from a place of privilege, or a pedestal of power, but from a place of true empathy and genuine care for each other, are what will matter the most.

Ironically, the very thing that gives wings to the virus is the very thing that will allow us as a people to rise above it — human connection.

We need to remind each other of all the things that keep us connected — love, hope, empathy, and kindness. Through the clouds of fear and uncertainty that surround us all, we can still choose to see each other.

We can still be willing to lend a helping hand to the elderly woman struggling with her two buckets of water, despite our newfound fear of human contact. We can lend support to the hard-working parent who now has to juggle his/her responsibilities with keeping an eye on his/her young daughter. We can choose to share with our church sister, even as some supermarket shelves become barren and as every cent becomes dearer to us all as we face the inevitability of economic downturn.

Just because clouds of fear and panic surround us does not mean we must get blinded by them or lost within them. Rely on each other and be there for each other during this turbulent time. Please, let us not forget what we can do for each other. Jamaican to Jamaican, let us move forward with kindness.

Please submit stories along with a photo if you have witnessed or will witness an act of kindness among our Jamaicans over this period to the following Instagram handle @akindjamaican or e-mail akindjamaican@gmail.com.

As terrible as this time may be, let us celebrate the kindness that has the ability to withstand any virus or other tragedy that may befall our island nation.

Here are our first three Kind Jamaicans — Ann Vassel, Wayne Smikle, and Robert Townsend.


Alliana Bovell

A Kind Jamaican

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