Every now and then we stumble upon a funny or warm post on social media, but generally speaking our platforms have become a cesspool of hateful rhetoric and vile behavior. Over the past two months, however, something new and inspiring has been occurring. People are using social media to share and connect in positive ways. I call it Coronavirus Kindness.
Just a few months ago, if anyone were to judge our society through social media, they would likely conclude we are in the midst of a moral crises. While that is undoubtedly still true today, Coronavirus kindness gives us reason to be hopeful.
Based on what we have seen on social media during the Coronavirus, we know without question, that people have the capacity to be warm and caring. The question, therefore, is not if we have the ability to act with compassion, as I was beginning to conclude just a few months ago, but if we can sustain the willingness to touch our humanity in the days ahead. It will not be easy.
Though we all possess an innate loving kindness, we have been conditioned to bury that goodness from our daily lives, allowing it to rise up only when tragedy strikes. We witnessed our potential for kindness in the aftermath of 9/11. Our country came together with strength, support and an abundance of love. There was a palpable feeling across the country, even around the world, that we were all united, grieving as one. On the streets of New York and other cities, strangers found themselves hugging one another, overcome by the spirit of humanity. It was as if we had just discovered this new emotion called love and everyone was thirsting for it.
However, love and compassion are not new to humans, nor is this uprising of Coronavirus kindness. We can all think of times when people in our lives have put aside their differences to share love. Maybe it is the birth of child, or the death of someone. It is almost cliché to hear about people making amends with someone on their deathbed. Someone they had long since cast aside. In those last hours prior to someone entering the mystery we all share as our destiny, people become transformed. Somehow, the fragility of life allows both parties to sit together and forgive.
Humans absolutely have the potential to be compassionate beings. We are meant to love each but we lose our way and get caught up in our self-righteousness or ego. We become offended and close our hearts. So many things shut us down and close us off from our potential. It really is too bad we squander all the love we have inside. We don’t even talk about these things. We just walk around in a trance, as if there is a filament over our eyes that prevents us from seeing into each other. Are you in there? Yes, I am here, waiting to share my love.
Fortunately, Coronavirus kindness is not just a phenomenon seen on social media. It has manifested in many ways. We find ourselves making eye contact with a cashier in the market, asking how they are doing, and actually listening to the answer. We make a genuine connection. Or maybe we offer a hello to a neighbor who passes us on the street. Small gestures that seemed to have disappeared due to lack of use, are once again blossoming, taking root in our culture.
All that said, however, I must admit that I can already feel Coronavirus kindness dissipating as we reopen the country. On social media and on the streets we hear anger rising over the issue of face masks. But regardless of whether you wear a mask or oppose masks, we have the choice to express ourselves with kindness. We do not need to relinquish the goodness we have seen the past few months. There is no rule that says in order to survive we must go back to our hardened ways. Why not touch the soft stuff just a little bit longer? Why not share a little more love?
These feelings of warmth are our birthright. We do not need to deny ourselves. In fact, since social media challenges are all the rage these days, I would like to propose this challenge:
The next time you go to share something on social media, ask yourself, will this post feed others or trigger them? Does it contain wisdom? Am I speaking with compassion?
By asking questions like these, perhaps Coronavirus kindness will become an everyday form of social kindness. That’s a viral strain worth spreading.