Guest Columnist

Looking for good during a very bad time

The front of the Wickham Elementary School teacher parade passes though a neighborhood waving at kids in Coralville on M
The front of the Wickham Elementary School teacher parade passes though a neighborhood waving at kids in Coralville on Monday, March 30, 2020. The parade was made up of about 30 cars. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

The coronavirus has upset the apple cart. The lives we used to know no longer exist. We are making all kinds of adjustments to what we do, when we do it and how. It’s a tough time for each and every one of us. It’s certainly harder for some than others.

While in some cases the crisis is bringing out the worst in humanity — think fistfights over toilet paper — it also is bringing out the best.

People making deliveries to shut-ins and donating clothes and little-used items to those with greater need. Families spending more high-quality time together. Groups finding innovative ways to connect through technology. And in time, brilliant minds developing treatments and a vaccine for COVID-19

Importantly, one other thing this crisis seems to be bringing out in people is a greater appreciation for things often taken for granted — such as good health, a walk on a sunny day, flowers popping up around the house, paper products, carryout food, work and a paycheck, unemployment and Social Security benefits, sick and family leave, a loving pet, a good book, the video or song that brings a smile, technologies such as Skype and Zoom.

Many also are better realizing the importance of the people we have a tendency to take for granted:

• The checkout person and shelf-stocker at the grocery store.

• Friends and neighbors.

• First responders (EMTs, firefighters, law enforcement), those in the health care professions, and those who work in long-term care settings who often risk their own health, and the health of their families, to assist, treat and support others.

• Truck and van drivers transporting and delivering essential goods.

• Those who work with our children and grandchildren in day care, to watch over them and help them learn.

• Those who work in school buildings and on college campuses to teach, guide and support kids, young adults and those

retooling their lives.

• Employers and co-workers who genuinely care about us.

• Workers and volunteers at food pantries and charities devoted to helping

others lead better lives.

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• Repair professionals — those who fix our cars, appliances, computers, furnaces and water heaters, etc.

• Public servants who, among other things, keep water clean and safe, haul garbage, fix roads, maintain and supervise parks and pools, drive buses, help protect kids and public health, oversee prisons and jails, and those in the court system who determine guilt and innocence.

• Elected officials and staff who work overtime to make tough decisions — decisions that will not please everyone — during a crisis.

• Journalists who serve as the public’s watchdog, keeping us informed and offering their opinions.

• Faith, civic and nonprofit leaders and staff who help us deal with challenging times.

• And all the others that space will not allow to be mentioned — we encourage readers to take a minute or two to add to the list.

We’re trying to remember to say “thank you” to these people when we encounter them. Just as we have gotten into the habit of thanking those in the military for their service, we need to get into the habit of offering heartfelt appreciation to so many others who serve, support and care about us.

Saying thank you is a simple act with a deeply meaningful impact. Let’s do it more often, and not just during this, hopefully, temporary crisis. Showing gratitude should be the rule, not the exception. It’s also contagious — if you express it, others will, too. Expressing gratitude might turn out to be more lasting, and more powerful, than this virus.

John and Terri Hale own The Hale Group, an Ankeny-based advocacy, consulting and communications firm. terriandjohnhale@gmail.com

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