Woman wearing face mask

In the face of crisis, there are really two options: back down and let the circumstances dictate your future, or stand up and be part of the solution. So here we are, in the middle of a global pandemic. With both options on the table, which will you choose?

This is not the first global pandemic, and will not be the last. But if history gives any indication, you can be sure of this: heroes will emerge. In 1796, Edward Jenner developed the first vaccine to prevent smallpox, an infectious disease that had killed countless millions. In 1928, Alexander Fleming led a team to the discovery and eventual mass production of penicillin to combat bacterial infections, thus beginning the era of antibiotics and saving millions of lives. Behind each of these discoveries were many more heroes within the medical community and beyond who helped people in extraordinary ways, paving the way for a cure to finally defeat an invisible enemy.

Beyond the medical crises of the past, we see the same theme in times of mass tragedy: heroes emerging, by the millions. Out of World War II, we often remember notable heroes like General Dwight D. Eisenhower and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. But their heroism accumulated from the scores of Americans, and people around the world, who risked their lives and made tremendous sacrifices for the greater good. 

The same thing is happening right now, in the middle of this pandemic — heroes emerging. When we look back on this time, there will likely be heroes identified in our history books, and most likely, those figures will be a source of controversy, as they so often are. We can all agree that there are countless heroes in our neighborhoods right now making tremendous sacrifices to keep us all safe. Maybe you are one of them. Maybe they’re your friends or members of your family. These brave people are making a choice in the face of crisis to stand up and be part of the solution.

There are ways we can all help each other through this tumultuous time. Here are some ideas to consider:

1) Connect with Others Daily

Set aside some time each day to reach out to people you know. A simple text or phone call is certainly sufficient. You can also find creative ways to reach out. Try sharing a meal or taking a walk together using a video conferencing tool. We may not be able to gather in person, but we can stay connected.

2) Thank Our Heroes

If you know a medical professional, an essential worker, or someone else you consider to be a hero in this pandemic, share your gratitude. Gratitude is only known if it is shown. Recording and sending a quick video with your heartfelt thanks can be a creative way to say thanks not only with your words, but with your expressions.

3) Meet a Practical Need

There are many ways that we can meet practical needs and serve one another. This could be volunteering to do grocery shopping for someone you know with health concerns, helping someone who has a financial need, or supporting a local charity. There are many great causes you can support, like the YMCA, a local church or food bank, or a global humanitarian organization. If you have the means, consider increasing rather than decreasing your charitable giving during this time to help our community come back from this crisis stronger than before.

One day we will be on the other side of this pandemic, except with a greater awareness of the millions of heroes all around us.