IMAGINE THIS: two years from now, Eastern Nazarene College (ENC) unveils a memorial remembering the students, alumni, faculty, and staff who died during the coronavirus pandemic. Somewhere on campus, each name is etched in stone or steel. Imagine current students, alumni, faculty, staff and family members gathering. They gather out of love, for each other and for those taken by the coronavirus. The names of the dead are read. Those gathered pause for a moment of silence.
Is this possible? Certainly. Likely? Perhaps.
What we are determining today, by our action or inaction, is the length of that list of names. What we are determining, in all our actions wherever we are, is the number of names inscribed on this memorial and memorials like them around the world. We have a vital role to play in determining our future. The coronavirus is teaching us that we are all connected and that our health and our survival depends on each other. This possible future gathering to remember the dead may be an act of love. Yet what we do today may be an even more critical act of love.
This time is calling for vital practices for our personal and communal health. These include keeping a six-foot distance from each other, frequent, vigorous hand washing, avoiding congregating with groups, and much more. Whether or not we live into these new commitments will determine how many will get sick and how many will die.
Two years from now, if there is an unveiling ceremony for a memorial to the dead of the coronavirus pandemic, some may be in the grips of self-condemnation. They may realize that they contributed to another’s death; perhaps a friend’s or loved one’s death. They may realize that they contributed to a lack of awareness and commitment that allowed the pandemic to do the great harm it did. Our task then, as a Christian community, will be to learn from our experience and support each other in forgiveness.
But we are not two years ahead. And we have the awareness now to see where this could go. We have clear direction from respected health leaders on essential practices for all of us. We can commit ourselves to fully embracing the precautions our health leaders are giving. This is the act of love we all can offer. Taking precautions seriously today may save someone’s life. It may save our own.
Steve Tumolo is a faculty member in the Communication Arts and Business Departments. He serves as the adviser to The Veritas News.