Last week the Chinese electronics company, Xiaomi, donated tens of thousands of facemasks to the Italian government. And, in the most touching display of solidarity from one country suffering the impact of the coronavirus to another, the boxes were labeled with the words of the ancient Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca:
We are waves of the same sea, leaves of the same tree, flowers of the same garden.
Siamo onde dello stesso mare, foglie dello stesso albero, fiori dello stesso giardino
Someone involved in this donation decided to add these perfect words to every box of masks, and the ripples of kindness spread across the world.
In this time of global panic, it is too easy to isolate ourselves and pursue a purely selfish attitude of putting ourselves and our needs first. This is not the time to try to hoard essentials or procure vaccines exclusively for one country. This is not the time to place blame on other nations’ citizens and accuse them of ‘seeding this virus in our land’.
Now, more than ever, is the time for the world to be together in solidarity, facing a common foe. It is time to work on defeating this virus together.
It is the time to offer support, kindness and patience to others.
It is the time to stubbornly refuse to give in to the worst of human nature.
It is the time to stand together, resilient, and with a determination that we will get through this – together.
Take a breath, take care of yourself and your family. Then look out your door to others in your circle who need help. Check on your friends, family, and neighbours.
We know there is a need to keep a physical distance, but this should not mean that anyone is left socially isolated. We all live in a community, and this is the time when the most vulnerable in society need the most community support; the elderly, the sick, the young mother with a newborn baby, the newly arrived immigrant, the worried teenager, the laid-off hospitality worker, and the exhausted nurse.
We urge you to look for the little ways you can help those around you. Don’t be afraid to ask someone how you can help them. We must remember that it is a basic human need to be connected, and therefore, it is essential that no one feels disconnected or on their own in this pandemic. We are in this together, as a world, as a human race. Seneca, the philosopher, had another quote that seems particularly fitting for this difficult time:
“There is no great credit in behaving bravely in times of prosperity when life glides easily with a favoring current, neither does a calm sea and fair wind display the art of the pilot. Some foul weather is wanted to prove his courage.”
Seneca reminds us that it is through the hardest times that the best of our human nature can shine. Let us, therefore, shine with kindness, compassion, and community as we set the path together through these unsettling times.
There is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.