Lisa and I were walking outside the house and our new neighbor, Sarah, drove up and stopped to chat. She shared that she would be working from home because of the COVID-19 restrictions and offered to do any shopping we might need or help in any other way.

Of course, her warmth and generosity were greatly appreciated, but after she left Lisa and I looked each other in the eyes. I guess it’s official. We’re the elders in the community and definitely fit into the demographic of those most vulnerable to the pandemic.

As expected, there have been accusations, denials and debates about how this crisis has been handled by the president. Ultimately the results of the upcoming presidential election may be decided on how this crisis is, was or not handled.

Of course, the most criticism has been focused on the obvious mishandling of the beginning of this crisis by the president and his administration. Now, mid-March, there is much anguish about the lack of direction from the federal government and the hodgepodge of state-by-state and city-by-city policy directives.

I can see the need for a national strategy and bringing to bear the federal resources the states don’t have. But there is a need for localized determinations because one size does not fit all. There is also a need for what Sarah offered to her new neighbors, help and support from one human being to another.

This is what makes me optimistic that this too shall pass. In a crisis, the opportunity for the best or the worst of human characteristics can surface. Government on any level can only do so much. But whether we can “flatten the curve” of this coronavirus outbreak will fundamentally hinge on how we as people respond.

And what I’ve seen thus far rekindles my hope in the basic fiber of humanity, which has been waning in the polarized and negative environment of today.

Maybe this is the silver lining in this time of crisis. It is a reset based upon what we have in common rather than a focus on what we don’t. What are the ties that bind, the basic beliefs that hold our society together? Here are some thoughts and words to consider (there of course are so many more):

• Do onto others as you’d have them do onto you! (universal ethic of reciprocity)

• Judge a person not by the color of their skin (or gender, religion, national origin, etc.) but by the content of their character. (version of Dr. King’s famous quote)

• You have two ears and one mouth for a reason (let’s hear what each other has to say)

• All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten (by Robert Fulghum)

• When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed (Maya Angelou)

• Be safe and take care of each other (Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, executive chairman, **L.A. Times**)

But there is one last phrase that applies.

• Actions speak louder than words.


Warren Furutani is a former member of the State Assembly and served on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education and Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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