I remember dark nights when magical things happened - the fireflies came out to play. It was as though their magic lit up the night, and being young, I did not want to know the mechanism of this miracle. I just wanted to believe in the illusion.
There were days lying on the soft grass of our front lawn where the clouds created mystical creatures, galloping horses, or angry trolls just for me to admire. Some days, when the sky was bright blue with no clouds to watch, I spent hours looking for four-leaf clovers or tromping the surrounding forest picking wild berries and savoring their sweet flavor.
Sometimes a group of us would sneak into our neighbor’s backyard and feast on his sumptuous deep-violet Concord grapes, their taunt skins fighting our teeth until a burst of sweetness overpowered the slight sourness of those skins as the flavor exploded onto our tongues. To this day, they remain my favorite grapes and one of my most vivid memories.
Childhood was easy then. The world still held mystery and sweetness. Neighbors looked out for you and sometimes tattled on you, but you never felt unsafe. We felt invincible, leaping off a neighbor’s playhouse trying to fly like superman, or “skating” on the frozen swamp in winter ignoring the fact that children had drown in it just the summer before. In most ways, we were shielded from any horrors that existed.
How different it is my grandchildren. The first thing learned as they toddled trustingly toward that strange neighbor taking out the trash is stranger danger; don’t trust anyone because the boogey man exists and is waiting to snatch you away if you aren’t constantly vigilant.
Next they learned to shelter in place at their schools because that boogey man now follows them into their schools, their churches, the grocery store, movies or the malls, and this time, with no thought to anything but his anger, begins shooting anyone within range.
Now we have an invisible enemy: Corvid-19. And what many are learning is that the world is full of people who care more for their selfish needs than the good of the community. They learn that people care more for money, power, and their self-interest than they do for the elderly, ill, or compromised people of their communities. Many are learning that there is little food for them and that perhaps, someday soon, they will be living on the street. Normalcy is gone and the world is uncertain.
Once upon a time there was community; people came together to help each other through hard times. If a neighbor needed food, clothing, a helping hand, the neighbors and churches were there for them. They didn’t think about what they would get out of it, only that there was a need. What has happened to us?
There is still time to bring back the magic. Many wonderful people are doing their part. We can teach our children that hard times happen, but that during the worst of times good people stand together and the world becomes a better place. Let’s bring back community, caring, compassion, and love. Let’s teach our children that the world can still be filled with goodness and that there is more to love than to fear. Let’s set an example for them so that the life we create after this crisis is better than the one that created all these problems. It is possible. It is the time, and we are the people that can do it.