Something amazing has been happening in big cities across the nation. It started in New York City. People stuck inside, alone, decided to show their appreciation for the front-liners who are breaking the six-foot rule because it’s their job to stand over those infected with the Coronavirus. When the rest of us run, they stay and try to make them better or, if that doesn’t work, at least ease their final pains. Toronto, London, Delhi, Singapore, Milan, Paris- everywhere that this insidious virus has spread and forced people indoors, they are pushing back in a gesture of resistance and solidarity.
At 7 PM New York City residents have been going onto their balconies or at open windows, all clapping and whooping and yelling their thanks for those first responders and frontline workers. Coming together to let those brave souls know they are appreciated. Why 7 PM? The new urban ritual coincides with the shift break of hospital staff, when medical workers emerge from the COVID-19 war zone into the open air, to go home for a spell, or eat, or otherwise decompress. It was a way to thank them for risking their lives to save ours.
We all need to feel a part of something bigger.
During catastrophes we search desperately for support and comfort, in the fervent hope we are not alone, especially when we can’t congregate or group together. This is a thoughtful and ingenious way to share a common moment, honoring those special people who deserve our respect. At the same time it joins us all together, if only for a minute.
It’s been spreading.
In one rural area where a lady lives a mile from her closet neighbor they still heard each other across the wind yelling and clapping together. They didn’t feel so isolated.
Friday I asked friends, family, co- workers, and patients to stop everything and go outside and yell thank you, clap and whoop it up for all those doing their part to keep us safe.
Friday I was the only one clapping in my neighborhood.
Saturday I was alone.
Sunday I was alone.
Monday a few neighbors joined in. Tentatively at first, but there.
Tuesday, I was alone again.
Wednesday only the owls accompanied my yells of appreciation.
I’m afraid people thought it was just a one time event or felt too alone to make it an evening ritual.
Tonight? I’m hoping they’ll hear my continued calls for a unified chorus that will ring throughout the city. Our workers who brave this harsh new world deserve it. Regardless, you’ll always hear my voice.
When the world as we know it has ended, when we feel overwhelmed and scared and out of control, desperately clinging to anything that feels safe and comforting, we all need to believe in a future that will restore normalcy. We all want to honor those willing to put their own lives on the line to save humanity. We owe them a debt we can never repay.
At a time when we feel impotent to do anything but stay at home, often alone and scared, this one action can be empowering.
In some ways we are not just doing it for those brave enough to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves, we are also doing this for ourselves. To confirm our belief that surrounded by so much craziness and horrors our strength and goodness will shine through. To remind ourselves amid the empty shelves and streets that people will rise to the occasion and do what’s necessary to help those in need regardless of the cost. Even if it’s just for a minute a day. Joining our voices at the same time each night announces to the world we are here.
We are not going anywhere.
We will win this fight. And we are so thankful to those who will be there at our worst moments to keep us healthy or share our last moments when our loved ones can’t. These brave men and women give us dignity and honor when no one else can. It is also an opportunity to reconfirm our commitment to do whatever it takes to get us all through to the other side. To acknowledge we are individually a part of the whole and the actions of one can have a devastating impact on others. That by limiting the spread of COVID-19, we all saves lives.
So tonight, at 7 PM, stop whatever you’re doing, go outside or open a window and raise your voice in unison with your neighbors. Let your children and the child within you, fly free. Clap, yell, whoop every night – for you… for them… for us. Today more than ever we all need something to look forward to and believe in. Pay homage to an incredibly selfless group of people.
Let’s hear the roar from coast to coast.