The news at the moment would have you believe that the world we live in has turned into an awful place. Absolutely, the current COVID-19 situation is terrifying, and as you look across the world, there are really no words. And yes, the resulting economic situation is equally scary. But what I’m talking about is the news about disputes in grocery stores, of people being just plain awful to each other...
Now I’m sure this is happening. I’ve seen the footage, like everyone else, but this isn’t what I’m experiencing. Whilst situations like this can bring out the worst in people, they can also bring out the best, and as Hugh Grant puts it so perfectly in Love Actually, ‘often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – if you look for it, love actually is all around.’
This morning for example, I was at my local grocer. There was a queue of people waiting to enter, lined up nicely outside, neighbours saying hello to each other from the required distance. Happy to wait their turn, happy to wait while the incredibly busy staff worked non stop at the cashier, cleaning the trolleys and restocking shelves. I had popped out to put some of my little ones masterpieces in the post for our extended family, so given I was already out, I thought I would grab a coffee – something that only weeks ago was a daily ritual and now seems like such a treat. When I joined the line to order my coffee, I got chatting. When the line (I’m talking 10-15 people long) realised I just wanted to order a coffee, and also that I had left my three darling children at home with my Mum, they sent me straight to the front, joking at the idea I would line up to only order a coffee. On my drive home, two hot coffees in the car, I couldn’t help but feel like now, more than ever, we need to talk about the good. We might not be able to wrap our arms around each other literally, but we can still feel that love and warmth from our family, from our neighbours, or from strangers.
I know I am not the only one experiencing this. A friend last week mentioned to me a scene at Coles that made her cry. An older lady went to pay for her groceries, and was over the long life milk quota. The man behind her said he would take two of the ones she needed to put back. He paid for them, and put them straight back in her trolley. The lady was scared and worried, and just wanted to make sure she didn’t run out of milk for her cup of tea. So these stories of people buying up at the groceries aren’t necessarily the ‘selfish, crazed’ narrative that we hear. These times are scary and unprecedented, people are trying to do whatever they can to feel safe, and to feel like they are protecting their families, and the truth is we don’t actually know what to do.
We are told we might have months ahead of us with restrictions on our daily lives, and past that, there are going to be lots of people who are struggling as a result of this crisis. I’m not trying to kid anyone that this is the answer to all our problems, but I urge you to smile when you can…at the neighbour walking past, at the person serving you at the grocery store, to anyone you see. If we do our best to try and virtually wrap our arms around each other, we will definitely make it through this more easily, and hopefully in the not to distant future when we can get back to our daily lives (and that daily coffee) we will remember how easy it was to brighten someone’s day, even just a little.
I would love to hear stories of kindness you have encountered. Let’s try to fill the world with some good news.
Words: Amy Thomas