So I went to Publix the other day. And just like any other day… I parked my car in the parking lot, and went inside. And just like any other day, I grabbed a cart. But not just like any other day, there were things I could not buy.
And when my eyes first met up with the bread aisle, I was extremely grateful that I had the foresight to freeze my previously purchased and older loaf. Living through hurricanes taught me as much.
So, I could not buy the bread that I wanted.
I kept shopping.
I could not buy toilet paper.
And, living through hurricanes - did not teach me or forewarn me on that one.
Nope - no one really saw the toilet paper challenge coming our way. Not even those already prepared for days without power and those who’ve lived through many hurricanes.
In fact, there were a lot of things I could not buy. I won’t name them all here, as that is not my point.
My initial point is this - I made do. I adapted. I pushed on. I stayed positive. I shared my ideas with others on how I am coping. I still joked about it all. I remained silly and sarcastic. And I kept talking - despite how differently we all might perceive our new reality.
Because at the same time, there were many items I could buy… many items in my shopping cart. Many items the cashier scanned through their purchasing system. Many items now settled nicely inside my very cold refrigerator and freezer and pantry and medicine cabinet.
You see, how we react to what is placed in front of our eyes, is sometimes more important than what is actually placed before our very eyes.
I did not cry these past weeks. Although I wanted to. I did not give up. Although the thought did cross my mind. I did not fight over perceived differences. I only joked about it all. With sarcasm and humor yes, but truly just joking around. And many others are now doing the same.
I have been in contact with countless individuals each and every day these last weeks. And what I witnessed - has been the absolute best of humanity.
Each person who I speak and interact with is nice. Kind. Optimistic. And yes, scared.
But all of them keep their composure in public. All of them do not want to spread further fear. And panic.
There was another common theme to every person I recently met. They said that people are talking to each other once again. People are civil. People are reaching out to those they have not spoken to in years. And then, other people are responding in kind.
Specifically, people are putting their differences aside. And communicating like human beings again.
At the end of one conversation, one man thanked me for speaking with him.
We took time to pause for a few minutes. We took the time to genuinely inquire about each other’s well being. Any politics and beliefs and religions and all other differences aside. We are speaking to one another. But most importantly we are caring for one another.
And as the conversation with that one gentleman came to an end, he said that this was the best conversation he had in a long time. I said I completely agreed. He went on his way. I don’t know his name. I probably will never see him again. But each person an individual meets and interacts with has the crucial ability to set our future toward a different path. A more optimistic path. If merely, we react to others in a better way.
When I exited Publix, the very first thing that caught my attention while walking to my car was a beautiful dog. One of God’s special creatures. A creature who bestows special gifts onto the living world.
This precious doggy was sitting at attention. He was watching the exit. Waiting for his owner to leave the store. This angelic pup could not be swayed. This canine could not be distracted. He or she only had eyes for his partner in life. He could not be disturbed in any way.
And yes, I did try.
How could I resist? The little cutie pie! I said, “Oh hello!” And then told him how cute he was. I said, your owner will be out shortly.
But, you know what? His gaze never waivered. His look was of determination. His spirit and love - fully alive in his soul. Waiting. Being diligent. And forever faithful.
I said a few more nice things to this adorable little creature and then went on my way. His gaze never once removed. His eyes locked on the front doors of Publix.
As we were loading up the trunk, I noticed the next people coming out of the store. Individuals, couples, families.
Each of them stopped to talk to the adorable doggy.
Each of them wanted a response from the dog - just like I did.
I watched the humans. And I watched the dog...
Each of them saw pure love in a golden hew.
But that dog’s gaze never strayed.
I will not forget that dog. He made such an impression on me. Enough of an impression, obviously, that I felt compelled to take a photo. To capture the spirit in his eyes. To soak in his determination and faith and unwavering love for another human.
These weeks have been a challenge. Not just for me. Not just for those I have talked with. But for everyone.
Every single living human being on this planet is now touched in some way. Touched by a faceless evil.
An evil we are now at war with.
Yes, we are at war - with a virus.
An evil that knows no discrimination. An evil that has destruction in its wake and in its path. An evil that knows no age, no race, no creed, no ethnicity, no sex, no gender, no hair color, no appearance, and certainly doesn’t care whether we look like a million damn dollars, or if we - uh hmmm - could really use a manicure or a hair cut.
No - CoVid 19 does not care. It only cares about eating us alive. It only cares about its own survival. And growth. And spread. And mutation. And adaptation. And to gain even further power over us. To swallow us whole. To suffocate us.
And in order for us to survive against this evil we will have to suffer. And in order for it to be destroyed - we also have to suffer.
You see - we - every single human being - has now been called to action.
We not only have to act. But we have to REACT.
We have been summoned. We have been tasked. We have been deployed.
In order for our evil to be destroyed - it will require the will and determination and action and reactions of every single human on this planet. Not just a single city. Not just a state. And not just a single nation.
This evil requires countries. Nation states. Global powers. The entire world.
We are all called to battle.
Yes, everybody has to sacrifice.
I tend to talk a lot about the following key words:
And, in the end - It’s always our reactions that win the day.
Or worse off - it’s our reactions that lose the day too.
And thus - the war.
We’ve REACTED to evil many times in the past.
On one very special Christmas during World War I, troops on both sides of the trenches put aside their different causes for a single night. Far in the distance, the songs of Christmas could be heard. Song. And then, once heard, many reacted to the sound of song, and joined in themselves. Soon, trenches were abandoned, and humanity came together. The two sides were no longer at war with one another. They stood in no-man’s land, as equals, and as humans. Sharing their different worlds they lived in. Even speaking one another’s language with each other. Think about that. Their extremely passionate differences put aside, all to make it through a somber time, together.
We reacted to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. And it was a REACTION felt round the world.
And after that bombing, we were told that the only thing we have to fear - is fear itself.
We reacted to North Korean aggression - as they crossed the 38th Parallel, and attacked South Korean sovereignty.
We REACTED once again, to September 11th, 2001. America - invaded - by a foreign enemy. We did not initiate. We did not ask for war. We did not want violence and evil and death and destruction and very horrific terrors. But all those evils came our way anyway - and, thus, we reacted. With the full military and civilian might built and instilled and festering inside our souls.
By coming together.
Yes - We’ve reacted many a time throughout human history.
And we must now react, once again.
American’s must come together.
In fact, the entire world must come together on this one, folks.
Yes, our evil is a virus. Yes, our evil has no face. There are no planes crossing the Pacific in secret, set out for destruction from the sky above. We are not focused on the 38th Parallel dividing line on a map. I am not talking about an enemy so determined to fly a plane - but not at all determined to land it.
Yes, our evil is completely and utterly invisible.
And sometimes, and making this all the more scarier, is the need for awareness in the fact that it’s those invisible evils which are the strongest ones to battle against. They require all our will and force. All of us to be very brave. All of us to sacrifice in some way. And all of our humility.
All of humanity.
It’s sorta like when you’re playing a video game. And then in the final battle scene of each land within the game, you face the evil villain.
Ahhh, that climactic battle scene. With scary music, and scenery, and sounds in the background. All leading you to the horrific villain.
That villain is ruthless. That villain has eyes as red as the devil himself. Sometimes that villain breathes fire.
And burns his opponent.
One life down.
One less life left in the game.
And sometimes, that evil villain inside the final battle scene… literally POPS out of nowhere. Hidden behind a corner.
As you are running up, up, up, sword in hand, to save the Princess in the Castle. You round that final corner, on your way to certain victory, when you are shocked to near death and awe. That evil, red-eyed, fire breathing dragon was invisible. Waiting in hiding. And absolutely and utterly camouflaged into the dark and desolate and dirty brick and mortar of the castle walls. Hiding there. Biding his time. Just waiting for you to come at him. And then… Attack.
You are shocked.
You are down on the ground.
You fall deep into a hole.
Or down a green pipe.
You have to struggle out.
Fighting for air.
HE - EVIL - has the advantage.
EVIL - has the upper hand.
EVIL - is one up on you.
EVIL - caught you off guard.
EVIL - watches you in shock.
And EVIL… waits for your reaction.
Yes, your REACTION.
When you get knocked down, the always and forever question is - will you get up again?
Will you - live to die another day?
Will you - put up the fight of your life?
Will you - hit back?
And ultimately - will you - do all this, while keeping your humanity?
While keeping civility? While following guidelines? While educating yourself about that fire-breathing dragon? How does he live? How does he survive? And thrive? And what is his weakness? What scares him back into the brick and mortar? What burns him to death? What is required for the destruction of his evilness? Because you can’t fight fire with fire, right?
One fire pitted against another in the same small room only makes that fire more powerful and more quickly devouring the entire area. And then - it spreads. Gaining power. Beyond one room. More powerful, more heat, more burn, until it burns the whole house down. Left unchecked with nothing standing, nothing left alive in its path. Eventually swallowing the house itself.
Or - it can be snuffed out. Somehow...
No - you can’t fight fire with fire…
You fight it with water.
You fight evil with life itself.
Our federal government has called us to action.
All of us - living and breathing humans.
The challenge and ask is for fifteen days.
15 days to help change the world.
15 days to react to the summons.
15 days to follow repeated guidelines.
Every one of us is mentioned in this summons.
Every one of us plays a part.
If even one single person did not partake in The Christmas Truce of 1914, the entire spur-of-the-moment event would have ended in carnage and bloodshed and death all around. As soldiers sang Christmas Carols and played cards and swapped cigarettes and talked with one another as fellow human beings, if merely one single person on either side brought out their weapon of war and started shooting - there would be a completely different outcome to that all-important day in The Great War.
And today, we all must play our part too. No one is sitting on the sidelines on this one. No one gets a free pass. No one is going to the penalty box. We are all in play. Whether we want to play or not.
And some roles are quite different from one another. In fact, some roles could not be more different from one another than if we were all sitting in opposing trenches on a muddy and frigidly cold battlefield on Christmas of 1914.
We may feel like we are fighting different battles. But we are all on the same team.
Yes - In order to win - we must come together. We must play our roles on that same team. We MUST wear the same uniform.
All while, I’d say, for most all of us, this has been one of the most challenging times of our lives.
These days bring much uncertainty.
These days bring destruction and loss.
These days bring the feeling of defeat.
And today may feel very hopeless indeed.
But if we all do our part. The hopelessness doesn’t have to win the day.
And our roles vary greatly:
Some of us should stay home.
All of us should social-distance from one another.
Some of us should shelter in place.
Some of us should be completely and utterly and formally quarantined.
And then, on the complete opposite spectrum - Some of us should report to work as usual.
And absolutely none of us should be having the party of our lives right now.
Yes, put the kegs away my friends.
Spring Break will always be there after we weather the storm.
We have been asked to sacrifice.
We have been asked to give - of ourselves - for the sake of humanity.
This is not the time for selfishness in any way.
This is not the time for bickering. This is not the time for politics. This is not the time to give here, but take there.
This is simply a time for sacrifice. Sacrifice of all kinds.
Some of our sacrifice will be financial.
Whether it’s a loss of money, investments, various business opportunities.
Some of us will lose the very job we love. The job we need. The job we rely upon. And then, knowing what’s reasonably coming ahead of us, this loss will happen to many more people than most alive today can possibly comprehend at the current moment. Our society forever changed by this war.
Some of our loss will be social.
And some of our loss will be our education.
Some will lose out on a magical life experience that can never be fully replicated or replaced in any way ever again.
Some of it will be medical.
Some will postpone elective surgery.
Some very needed and quite necessary surgeries will be gone without.
Patients in urgent need will be triaged.
A disrupted supply chain leading to lack of medicine and a PPE shortage.
Ventilators used at maximum capacity.
Pharmaceuticals on demand.
And some people, sadly, will lose their very lives.
Because there is no war, without loss of life itself.
And there always is a but. And it’s a big BUT.
But If - we do our part. If we play our roles. If we answer our summons, and sign on for duty with all our hearts and energy and strength and determination and will. If we cross the trenches, and come together. Heed the guidelines. Follow the rules set forth by our governments and world leaders. Listen to the scientists. Support our first responders. Pray for our military. Help those who are on the front lines of this battle, all those still needing to be in contact in some way with people who could be infected. Support them, by doing your own part. Fight our own battle and play our own role in this war. And then, after all that, to continue to have faith in humanity.
We then have 15 days…
15 days to help change the world.
Yes, 15 days to bend the curve.
15 days on a path toward destruction of evil.
Who knows where we will be at the end of 15 days? It may be but a single, small step in a larger and grander plan. In a long and drawn-out road map. We may be asked something else of us at the end of 15 days.
I have no idea. And neither do you.
But it is a start.
And I do know one thing.
Our start - our reaction - is imperative to our success.
The bipartisanship I have seen this week has given me hope. And it has given countless others hope as well.
Yes, I have come in contact with many people this week who have said the same exact thing. People are really talking to one another.
The common foes are trying to come together. They are speaking. They are supporting one another. They are working together. They are even praising one another, and asking each other for help.
But better yet - each of the other is actually answering the call to help from their supposed foe.
Yes, I said that right. They are working together, my friends!
And all THAT - is true leadership. THAT - takes courage.
And I know something else.
If they do NOT work together - we will not win this war.
Let’s all put our differences aside. Again, for the sake of humanity.
Let’s all follow their lead.
Let’s all follow the guidelines.
Let’s all do our own part.
Our own part - in this - Our very own World War 19.
As the fire-breathing dragon tries to burn us down with his fire.
Let’s fight back with water.
Let’s all be human again. Let’s all be civil. Let’s all be humorous, and funny, and sarcastic, and just plain silly. Let’s sing together, and let’s laugh together too. Let’s play cards together and speak each other’s languages.
Because we can’t win the war by using fire.
We have to breathe life - into life itself.
And let’s also all be that golden doggy. The precious creature sitting in the back of a golf cart. Watching humanity walk in and out of a grocery store. And as the dog witnesses shoppers stocking up on what goods they can buy, with disappointment and sadness in what they cannot buy. Let’s all have the unwavering faith of this yellow furball.
Sheer will and absolute determination. Forever faithful and absolutely in love. Not caring what others think of his actions. Doing the right thing. Sitting on guard. Not distracted by any temptation. Hopeful and fully believing that at any moment his owner will come walking out the door. A dog - who would give his own life to protect his loved one. Knowing only love, and forgoing all fear.
Facing the world head on. Faith on his side. World War 19 literally happening all around him. Belief and love in his heart. Waiting - desperately, and passionately waiting - to react… to love, coming out the front doors of Publix. ~
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