As we mark the one year anniversary of COVID-19 in South Carolina and the lockdown, I found myself trying to remain positive and asking, “Where is the good in this?”
I know I am not the first to ask this question or use this method of looking for encouragement in times of despair. Did it come from my mother? An ancient philosopher? A modern-day self-help guru? A pastor from my youth? An internet meme? Regardless of the question’s origin, finding “the good” is a way to stay optimistic – to be encouraged.
I urge you not to view the question, or the way you answer, in a way that diminishes the havoc caused by the pandemic. Rather, search for the good before forming your answer as a way to recognize perseverance, grit, and the living of everyday life. Open your eyes, your ears, your heart, your intellect and your mind. I am confident you will find something good.
I concede that on first reflection, it is challenging to find encouragement in the pandemic and the passage of this last year: over 500,000 lives lost nationwide — over 8,000 of our fellow South Carolinians among that number — jobs lost, finances ruined, celebrations tempered or cancelled, loneliness and despair experienced, education interrupted, health destroyed.
The Daniel Island News has recorded hundreds of interviews and stories, in print and online, related to the pandemic over the last year. Not surprising, many of those stories have been encouraging. Stories about how our neighbors are finding ways to serve others, how to use telehealth, how quickly scientists have developed multiple vaccines, how proficient banks have been at approving and dispersing PPP loans, how people are building and stocking Blessing Boxes with food, how churches are worshiping online, how students and teachers are learning, how restaurants and other small businesses have found solutions, how athletes are competing, and how families are coping.
For me, I miss my elderly father who lives alone in Pennsylvania and my adult son who lives in Australia. Travel to visit my dad has been limited by his health and age. A trip to or from Australia is prohibited by the cost and time associated with a 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine. Many of you have experienced greater concerns than these.
But, I am encouraged by the fact that I can Facebook video message with my son and phone calls with my dad are reassuring. I’ve found joy in some of the simplest things, like learning to cut my husband’s hair (even if it is only with the electric clippers), continuing our church’s traditional chili cook off remotely, and rediscovering my youthful ritual of reading the daily comics. I happen upon “Pearls before Swine” and find myself laughing out loud regularly. This is good.
Most importantly, the development, production, and distribution of the vaccines bring added encouragement in the promise of lives saved, health protected, regular school routines resumed, lives lived together. This is good.
I encourage you to be encouraged and find the good in this too.