By: Lynne Hart
As we deal with the novel coronavirus pandemic, we see people struggling with loss of income, loss of freedom to move about the country, and missing friends and family.
There is another side of the coin that we are seeing as well. The earth is using the freedom from human-created pollution to heal. People are remembering what is truly important in life. Nature and animals are taking back spaces that were once theirs.
Swans have replaced gondolas in Venice. Fish and dolphins have returned to the canals. The water is clear and beautiful.
The Himalayas are now visible to parts of India over 100 miles away. This is the first time in 30 years they can be seen; and it is due to reduction in pollution as the country is on a stay-at-home order.
China is experiencing huge reductions in greenhouse gases.
Not only is the earth healing, but people are also seeing positive changes coming from the pandemic experience. Countries are working together to find a solution to this virus. People are coming together to pray, to sing, and to talk with each other. Zoom and Facetime have become very important tools as we remain physically distant but crave social closeness.
Neighbors are coming out on their balconies to perform for each other and to sing together. Teachers right here in Limestone County are creating “parades” as they drive through their students’ neighborhoods letting them know they are missed. Volunteers are sewing masks, and those who can’t sew are donating or supporting the purchase of supplies. Communities have gathered in their vehicles at local hospitals sharing in praise and worship as they pray together for the patients and staff within the building’s walls.
Everyone has had to be creative to find ways to stay busy. We are turning to crafts, art, books, and music. Some are working on gardens or cleaning out a closet that has been ignored for months or years. We have been forced to slow down for the first time – maybe ever. Even when on vacation, most of us stay busy, moving, going places.
This should be a time of soul searching and thinking about how many things we have considered high priorities that are really not so important. Many people have been brought to their knees in prayer that may not have talked with God in a long time. It is time to take stock of the things that we think we must do, places we must go, money we must spend that shouldn’t hold such a high place on our priority list. This pandemic has forced us to learn what we must have and what we truly can live without.
If we are wise, we will take these lessons with us as the stay-at-home orders are lifted. Will we all just run back to our same way of life? Will we become overburdened with must-dos and must-haves and forget what we have learned? I hope not.
I truly hope that this chance to slow down has not been wasted. I hope we have reconnected with our families, learned to breathe, and learned to be kinder to each other as we have faced all of these challenges together. I hope we have reestablished or strengthened our connection to our Creator.
Let’s come out of this better people. Let’s be kinder to each other and kinder to our life-sustaining planet that has struggled under the weight of human pollution. We can’t solve the world’s problems by ourselves. We can, however, do our part to be kinder to our piece of the planet God has given us. Let’s think about our habits that may put a strain on our environment, such as littering, not recycling, driving when we could walk, burning household trash, improper disposal of household hazardous waste, and more.
We are in this together. Let’s not stop working together when this pandemic is over.
By: Lynne Hart
Executive Coordinator – Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful