Posted: April 4, 2020 in: Personal Empowerment, Faith


It’s 8:00 a.m. Saturday morning, as I write this blog.  The streets here, outside Boston, are eerily quiet.  People have started to wear masks, given data suggesting that Coronavirus might be spread through normal breathing, not just when an infected person coughs or when viral particles are transmitted by touching a contaminated surface, then touching one’s face.  And it would be easy to accept that the quiet and the masks and the run on essentials like hand sanitizer are signs of pervasive fear.  But, instead, I think quiet courage is more evident today and every day that this pandemic continues.

This isn’t the blazing, bullet-ridden, bloody courage of Normandy, when Americans landed on beaches and took enemy fire, resulting in the deaths of nearly 54,000 Allied forces that one day.  But, today, even as the streets are quiet, medical personnel are showing up to help people survive a transmittable illness—and often showing up without having enough protective clothing and masks.  EMTs are still working to transport people in ambulances.  Families are still taking care of loved ones who may have been exposed to the virus or may have symptoms of it.  Folks are still working in grocery stores and pharmacies and (now) take-out restaurants.  Surgeons are still performing surgeries that can’t wait.  Medical researchers are going to work to effort a vaccine or a cure.  Massive teams of public servants are creating the supply chains that will put a dent in shortages of medical equipment and of medicines.

Then there are, literally, tens of millions of Americans (and many, many more millions of people around the world) who are showing courage as they confront economic uncertainty, job loss and the reality that they may get sick or that those they love might get sick.

The new normal isn’t fear.  The new normal is courage.  Everywhere.  Pain abounds this morning, but power is in greater supply, by far.  It’s just quieter and unfolding behind countless closed doors—from hospitals to homes.  You have to listen for it—”out there” in the world, and inside your own home, too.  When you play a game with your kids and get them to laugh, that’s courage.  When you’re the one who gets in your car to go get groceries, that’s courage.  When you share kind words with anyone fighting this virus or pray for them, rather than keeping your emotional distance from them, that’s courage.  When you answer questions for friends about what you know about the virus or ways to avoid contracting it, that’s courage, too.

In the end, this virus will end.  Our country won’t, and our culture of courage won’t.  That’s obvious now—as much as it ever has been, in my 58 years of life.  Human beings have remarkable inner strength.  It is easy to forget that fact and despair during tough times in our lives.  But if we can store away some of the contagious courage that is spreading at ten times the rate of Coronavirus, then we may be able to summon it, again, during the personal challenges all of us are bound to face during our lives.

Dr. Keith Ablow


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