April 1, 2020 - You don’t have to be a scientist to figure out that what has befallen the entire world these recent times will not go away as quickly as it is spreading. COVID-19 has further upended an already topsy-turvy world. The virus knows no gender, country, age or social standing. It doesn’t choose who to infect. 

No one has a crystal ball that can tell us how humanity will come out of this crisis. If and when we do, no one will come out of this the same person before it started because a crisis of this magnitude has the ability to reveal one’s true character. This crisis tests our character. Will we be better because of the crisis? Or will we lose our humanity?  

It is perhaps providential that the spread of the coronavirus is peaking during this season of Lent. It is a season of introspection and putting into practice all that which we promised as believers of the one God. Did Ash Wednesday hammer down the meaning of what it is to be mortal? Going into Holy Week, did we “abstain” from cruel words or did we lash out instead of empathizing? Did we “fast”by checking our place of privilege outside the door before making a comment on social media? Did we check our facts before posting anything on social media or did we contribute to the proliferation of false information? Did we spread kindness, or did we spread malice?

We’re all in this together but did we follow social/physical distancing as directed by the experts and health officials or did we make fun of it by blatantly ignoring those signs that asked you to observe social distancing? Did we stay home when there was no need to go out or did we think we were invincible?

Did we worry about not going on that trip of a lifetime or did we support, thank or offer a prayer for those who have been called to fight this battle, particularly our Filipino health workers and caregivers many of whom have come to Canada to share their gift of caring? Did we consider the next young family struggling to make ends meet before we bought more than we needed? Or maybe refrain from bulk- buying those critical protective face masks so that health workers would be able to access those masks. Did we stand by and let others do the work or did we do our bit by phoning a neighbour who lives alone just to see how she’s doing? Remember, social distancing is not social disconnecting.

This is the time to use modern technology to its fullest. Phone, text, message, Instagram, Twitter – use any of these to let others know that we’re in this together. If there is an upside to a crisis like this, it is the opportunity to be creative, resourceful and thoughtful. In short, it is an opportunity for humanity to shine and be at its best.  

If you have $10 to spare, consider donating to a good cause – perhaps to buy personal protective equipment for frontline health workers or to contribute to a food program for the needy and homeless. Information on how to donate is not hard to find, it’s all over social media. 

If you are a health worker or caregiver, please take care of yourselves and know that you are in our collective thoughts and prayers. We need you now more than ever before.  We can drown out the political bickering and finger-pointing, but we can never disregard the precious gift you give mankind daily and tirelessly. Our lives are in your hands.

We are Filipinos and this is what we do: we help each other collectively whether from a physical distance of two metres or of an entire ocean. We influence the world by our good work no matter where in the global nation we may find ourselves to be and whether we’re called to the frontline or called to stay at home.

At the end of this crisis, will we learn from our mistakes or are we bound to repeat them? Will the Filipino shine or will he fade in the background? And will you be the bayani of our modern-day bayanihan?

By Rachel Ramos-Reid 
For the CFNet Editorial Board
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