By Reggie Connell/Managing Editor of The Apopka Voice
The coronavirus doesn't like you.
It doesn't care who you voted for. It doesn't care what race or ethnicity you are. It doesn't care if you are Generation X,Y or Z, a millennial, or a boomer. It doesn't care how much money you make or what zip code you reside in.
COVID-19 doesn't like you. In fact, it wants to kill you, but that gives America and every community inside its borders an opportunity it hasn't embraced in years. Finally, the US has a common enemy. Not only that, but an enemy that no one can be impartial towards.
The coronavirus has no friends, no allies - and isn't looking for any. It is very simply a virus looking for hosts that it can infect, sicken, kill, and then move on to the next victim.
In order to defeat COVID-19, we will have to come together and overcome this staggering worldwide pandemic, but for far too long, we have been separated by ideologies. Democrat vs. Republican. Conservative vs. Liberal. Blue vs. Red.
But now, under dire circumstances, we have to close the gap and come together as Americans, as communities in particular and fight our common enemy - COVID-19.
Our very lives could depend on it.
If this crippling pandemic has taught us anything, it's that all of us are connected to one another - like it or not, for better or for worse. If that sounds too Pocahontas "Color of the Wind" for you Rugged Individualist types, let me remind you that Jesus too believed we were all one.
In fact, he prayed for it to happen:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
--John 17:20-23 NIV
To be clear, I do not believe God created the coronavirus. I don't believe God creates catastrophes or tragedies to teach us lessons, but I do believe God can work through catastrophes, tragedies, or even a pandemic to create good that did not exist there before.
It's one of the benefits of being a creator God.
COVID-19 is not finished with its devastation yet - not even close. We still have weeks or months to go before we land on the other side. But I can't help but think God would rather see us come together as a country, and as a community, in these troubling times and love our neighbors as ourselves than to watch us retreat back into our political tribes and blame whatever leaders happen to be our political rivals. I know for some that is the default position, but during this crisis, it simply will not suffice.
I know it won't be easy.
I read a column from a fellow managing editor who covered 9/11. He described a sense of community in 2001 that prevailed for a short period of time.
"We were in this together," he wrote. "We were going through this as one nation. We would adapt, improvise and overcome."
He described communities that donated blood, volunteered, supported its first responders, and took the crisis on as one nation, under God, indivisibly.
He went on, however, to be skeptical that America could re-create that attitude again. But that was over two weeks ago, and in my humble opinion, attitudes have changed in that time.
Yes, the coronavirus definitely made its way into the political theatre, and it still may be playing in a few second-run venues, but due to the epic gravity of its staggering effects on the world stage, COVID-19 is simply bigger than politics. What has replaced that chatter is a renaissance of communities banding together to do what it can to keep its neighborhoods and towns intact as we weather this terrible crisis and attempt to keep what normalcy we are able to hold on to.
The coronavirus has changed every aspect, every rhythm, and everything familiar to our daily lives. It's all-encompassing and a part of almost every conversation, every newscast, and every article published.
It is for this reason that The Apopka Voice has been hyper-focused on COVID-19.
We want to be a daily (up-to-the-minute in some cases) resource in the fight against the coronavirus that our community is waging. This isn't the type of crisis that can be reported on with any less urgency.
While we will continue to report the grim news of the coronavirus accurately, objectively, and without sensationalism, we will also be on the lookout for inspiring stories of people and organizations in this community that are taking this epidemic by the horns and fighting back.
If you know about a person, business, or organization that is going above and beyond the call to fight the coronavirus in Apopka, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to feature their good works and continue to tell the story of this community, particularly in these times of profound struggle.
And in the meantime, there are things you can be doing for yourself and for your community. Take walks, shop for essentials, and check in on your loved ones and friends frequently. Keep informed about what is happening in your neighborhood. Give to people in need in your community: supplies for food pantries, financial donations, personal hygiene items. Buy online gift certificates to your favorite local stores and restaurants — and use them when this is over.
Think of creative ways to celebrate those on the frontline of this pandemic - doctors, first responders, healthcare workers, and nurses. But there are also unsung champions like caregivers, cashiers, cooks/chefs, delivery drivers, educators, farmers, food manufacturers, grocery store workers, janitors, the National Guard, pharmacists, postal workers, scientists, truckers and waste management workers. All of them are taking great risks to keep our society together in a time of great need.
Keep these heroes in your prayers, and do everything you can to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, misinformation, and harmful rumors. Instead, spread help, compassion, charity and inspiration.
We're all in this together, after all.
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