Could It Help?
Weeks ago, this country was short on ventilators. Too few to go around to those in need. Someone had the idea of turning the patient on their side to see if it could help. It did and this became the new protocol to treat breathing issues without ventilation.
This country was also short of masks. With too few to go around many discounted their value. But over time the view of masks has changed. At first the experts said wear them, then no you don’t need to, then wear them once again. In other words, they aren’t sure. Masks are hot. Masks are uncomfortable. Masks are not something we are used to wearing. Most of us are making our own choices because the authorities have not yet arrived at a definitive answer. But could the masks help? Maybe and that maybe seems reason enough to wear them.
Masks could not only help prevent virus particles from being exchanged from one person to another, but they could help in other ways. Masks can show respect. Could wearing one, state I care about you more than I care about me? Could wearing one, state I want to do all I can to help you and others? Could wearing one, express my concern for you and your fears recognizing we all live in uncertain times?
Our view of social space has also changed. Before, I tended to shorten the distance between you and me. I wanted to draw close, to connect, to show you our relationship is important to me. Enemies stand apart. Friends stand together. But these days what is abnormal, standing 6 feet apart, could help. These days, I distance myself from others because such distance conveys, I care enough about you to stand apart from you. These days, I choose the uncomfortable to respect our relationship, not to hinder it because social distance could help.
We now live in the land of the unknown as others explore possibilities of what could help, what might work. Today’s authorities might not confirm what was said yesterday. It is hard to know what is right and good. But here is something I do know, condemning others for their desire to practice best choices is not helpful. Just as authorities don’t yet know the final answer – best protocols for prevention, for treatment, for cures – we don’t either. As we strive to follow moving guidelines it is frustrating to know what would be helpful. But this I do know, judging and condemning are not helpful practices in a culture in desperate need of grace and mercy. What I am doing today, in the end game, might not be best, but today I am striving to practice what I know today that could be helpful for you and for me.
To move from a judging society to a grace-oriented culture we need to be listeners of others, not fixers of others. We do not know, but we could learn by listening. We could learn where others are and what could be helpful to them. We could learn what others need – to be heard, to share a burden, to cry, to express fear, to voice frustration? All of these require listening, not fixing. Once we state where we are, we can begin to consider where we could be. But as long as we are not heard, we remain stuck in the present and are unable to see the future.
“Could it help?” is an other-oriented question. It considers not only me, but also you. It points me in the right direction, the direction that includes us as we attempt to live into circumstances we don’t yet understand. It invites me to help instead of hurt, to offer grace instead of judgment, to respect instead of condemn because I live in a world that not only includes me, but also you.
Could it help? I think so.