Opinion: Coronavirus is reminding me how much I love this country. Let me explain.

by Peter Heck · Mar 13th, 2020 4:43 pm

Go ahead and call me crazy. Yes, I'm on Twitter, so I see the toilet-paper-hoarding-end-of-days-panic crowd face off against the holy-cow-chill-out-this-is-just-the-flu posse in epic thread wars daily.

Yes, I'm into politics, so I watch the absurd posturing our politicians are choosing to engage, desperately fearful that "the other side" might somehow gain an advantage in this whole pandemic business.

Yes, I love sports so I'm bummed beyond belief at the cancellation of conference basketball tourneys and March Madness, the interruption of the surprisingly enjoyable XFL inaugural season, the suspension of what was shaping up to be an actually contested NBA playoff, and the delay of the start of Major League Baseball.

Yes, I had spring break plans to take my family to Walt Disney World, and I'm not looking forward to telling my kids they'll be visiting our swing set instead.

And yet – and this is when that crazy part kicks in – all this coronavirus stuff the past 48 hours is making me realize just how much I love my country. I know it's anecdotal, but if we're forced to endure all the bad news anecdotes every hour on the hour as evidence that this could be the bitter end for all we hold dear, here's my evidence to provide the counterpoint.

Earlier this week in my classroom I overheard a group of my students chatting with each other intently as they gazed down at a paper in front of them. Confident it was not their in-class assignment that was captivating their attention, I made my way over to them. All four were members of the same youth group at a fairly large church in our area. Many elderly folks in their congregation were scared to go grocery shopping and expose themselves to potential coronavirus germs. These four students were texting with other kids in the youth group to organize a schedule to do the shopping for the at-risk elderly members of their congregation. I walked away inspired.

As it turns out, those kids weren't alone. The director of engagement over at Glenn Beck's "The Blaze," Jason Howerton, has organized something very similar deep in the heart of Texas:

Meanwhile, my wife recounted an experience at our local Dollar General. Walking in, she had passed two ladies having a conversation, one of whom was pushing a cart overloaded with multiple packages of toilet paper. The other woman was apparently heading in to buy some and asked, "Is there any left?" Cart lady responded, "Honey I bought ‘em out. But here, take what you need, we're all in this together." Again, I am at a loss to explain why this virus outbreak is provoking an abnormal need for toilet paper stockpiles, but nonetheless, it was an admirable and generous sentiment.

And speaking of generosity, some of the workers hardest hit by this pandemic are the stadium employees who rely on special events, concerts, tournaments, and professional sports to make a living. Their plight is not being ignored by some of those they serve:

I spent almost two hours with some of our local church leaders after our state's Governor issued a prohibition on all social gatherings of over 250 people. The ingenuity of God's people never ceases to amaze me. "This can be a great moment for the church," was voiced more than once. Seeing large bodies of believers suspending their weekly corporate meetings and instead breaking into their small groups for home church gatherings for communion, worship, and the sermon on video is powerful. I fully expect this to be a season of growth for our Christian community locally and around the country for this very reason.

And then, as if all that weren't enough, I ended my day in the grocery store buying our family essentials – turkey and chocolate chip cookies. I stood in line behind two guys who you could fairly assume had little in common: a 30-something, small black man in a long t-shirt and a 50-something Hoss with a cowboy hat. They both had crucial virus supplies in hand: Kleenex boxes, Vicks Vaporub, and an assortment of cold medicines. The checkout lady glanced at both as they approached and said, "You guys preparing for it or treating it?" The man in the t-shirt was preparing. The cowboy said he had a sick wife at home. After paying for his items, he turned to grab the bag and the black man said to him, "Tell your wife she's gonna kick this virus's a**." Hoss laughed, said "d*** straight," and walked off. I love this country.

The news is pretty depressing. But let's not forget that the American people are pretty great. Moments like this always remind me.

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