This. This is our moment.

Something is being asked of you, of me, of all of us.

The universe has handed us this moment.

What will we do with it?

How will we want to be remembered when this is all over? What stories will we tell our kids or grandkids? What stories will they tell about us?

How will we treat the people we’re stuck with at home, our spouses, our children, our parents?

How will we treat those who barely get by on the best of days?

Some people responded by hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizer and alcohol. Others are in denial and ignoring orders to keep a safe 6 feet away from others. Then there are those out buying guns to protect themselves from the rest of us.

Not me. I’m just buying ice cream. I’m too embarrassed to admit how many pints of Mitchell’s chocolate ice cream are jammed into my freezer, but it’s enough to feed a Little League team that just won its first game. And maybe the losing team, too.

I know that, in the long haul, we will be fine. My grandparents survived the aftermath of the potato famine of Ireland. Then their great hope turned into the Great Depression here in America. They lost their home, their crops and all their animals. And yet when my grandpa died decades later, he left behind 54 grandkids.

I love this message someone posted on Facebook: “Your grandparents were called to war. You’re being called to sit on your couch. You can do this.”

My dad and uncles went to war to save the world. They served for years, without email, FaceTime or WhatsApp to let the folks back home know they were still alive. And through that war, at home, they rationed everything they could, and somehow, we survived.

Because people supported the “we.”

We have to join the “we.”

This country was founded on “we.” It’s the first word of the preamble to the

U.S. Constitution, that document that binds us as a nation no matter who is president, no matter what we face now, no matter what happens next. “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union...”

We are being asked to form a more perfect union during this pandemic.

We will recover faster as a nation and as a global community if we band together by staying apart. As a police department in New Jersey reminded us on Facebook, “Just want to make this point in case people haven’t realized it yet – the longer you don’t comply with social distancing, the longer we’re going to have to do it.”

The sacrifices started small. They canceled opening day, March Madness and the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Then the governor shut the restaurants and bars down to keep us safe.

On March 22, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine – the true leader for the country during this crisis – issued a “stay at home” order. If you’re freaking out, remember, the people that founded our country put so much more on the line: their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.

Some of us will lose our lives, some will lose our fortunes. But all of us can keep our sacred honor intact. It just depends on how we embrace or resist this new way of life. And it is a new life. We have crossed the divide between B.C. (Before Coronavirus) and A.C. (After Coronavirus.)

What kind of people will we be?

It’s always a choice, as Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl taught us. We can’t control what happens to us, but we have control over how we respond to it.

Many have chosen love as a response:

A local florist dropped off a carload of flowers at the Cleveland sign in downtown Cleveland for people to build their own bouquets. In some cities, people are putting teddy bears in windows, decorating front doors for neighbors to see and chalking sidewalks with inspirational messages.

There’s a man who plunks a lawn chair outside the window of the nursing home, calls his dad inside, tells him to look out the window and they talk “face to face.”

In Italy, they are singing to each other from the balconies. Israeli actress Gal Gadot got Will Ferrell, Natalie Portman and Leslie Odom Jr. to sing “Imagine” by John Lennon, reminding all the people to share all the world.

“I know it feels like life is shutting down. I feel like life is waking us up.” That’s not Oprah talking, that’s Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton during a news briefing.

Now that we’re all awake, what are we going to do next?

Yes, we.


Letters, commentaries and opinions appearing in the Cleveland Jewish News do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, its board, officers or staff.

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