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Choose kindness over fear

Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman, 60th Air Mobility Wing, shares what being a military father means to him and encourages all military parents to cherish every moment with their children. (U.S. Air Force photo).

Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman, 60th Air Mobility Wing, shares the importance of treating people with kindness during the coronavirus pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo).

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – On a Monday afternoon, I stood outside a grocery store with about 40 people. Many of us wore masks; some wore gloves.

On the ground were strips of tape exactly six feet apart to ensure we maintained a safe distance from one another. As I looked around, I saw people of all ages, races and backgrounds.

While we stood in line, we used humor to pass the time. Joking with one another as we waited to purchase essential supplies like toilet paper and paper towels. I was struck in that moment with a strong realization; while we are facing a challenging time, it’s important, probably more so now than ever, that we practice kindness and treat one another with dignity.

The new coronavirus has impacted nearly everyone on Earth in one way or another. Many have become sick; thousands have died; and so many people are worried about the future. Many are stressed about their jobs, paying their bills, caring for their children and so much more.

I share some of those concerns. I wonder what life will be like when we are allowed to return to what we remember as normal. When we can shake hands with our friends, attend sporting events or concerts and enjoy large birthday celebrations with our children.

While I long to get back to that normalcy, I believe it’s vital we practice kindness – we are all in this together.

One way we can do that is by following the protective guidelines put in place by states across our great nation. By wearing masks when we are in public places, adhering to physical distancing and washing our hands, we are showcasing the value of our lives, as well as the lives of those around us. We are being kind to human life.

We should maximize kindness at every opportunity and not allow the coronavirus pandemic to take that from us.

There have been numerous examples of kindness despite the challenges we now face. Musicians have performed free concerts through social media to uplift spirits. Doctors and nurses across the world are doing all they can to save lives, and many people are volunteering at food banks to feed those who would otherwise go without.

As a certified crisis counselor, I’ve been practicing kindness by supporting people in pain. In over a little more than a year, I’ve counseled people through anxiety, increased stress, emotional trauma and thoughts of suicide. I became a crisis counselor because I care about others, and with every conversation I take, I’m practicing kindness. 

The best way through this pandemic is for us to continue practicing kindness and supporting one another. Rather than displaying hostility or anger toward our neighbors, especially when we struggle to find essential supplies, let us practice patience and compassion.

Let us also remember that many people are suffering right now, and simply saying ‘hello’ or calling to check on them can brighten their day.

I myself have struggled to adapt to this kind of new normal. I am working from home, along with my wife, while we balance our children’s homework, chores and finding time to just breathe. I’ve relied on technology to stay in contact with friends and family, and I’ve unfortunately, had to console a friend who lost her father to COVID-19.

We are facing an incredibly difficult time, but while the future may be uncertain, let’s treat one another with kindness, compassion…and never forget, we are all in this together.