Perspective from inside a cement bunker with ladder in the middle showing a way out and blue sky in the background

Optimism and Compassion in a Difficult Time


Written by Angela Roberts

Apr 1, 2020

“Is your trip really necessary?”

That was a slogan used by the Office of Defense Transportation (ODT), a government agency temporarily established in 1941 during World War II. The ODT sought to reduce gas consumption and overall internal travel in the United States in order to increase supplies needed for the war effort. One of their methods was to discourage traveling for “non-essential” purposes.

Sound familiar?

Americans today must all work together to support a greater cause, just like we did nearly 80 years ago. Our nation understood the stakes that even the smallest acts could have and acted appropriately then (research indicates that national gas consumption dropped by 32 percent between 1941 and 1944). We can do it again today.

To say “Times are tough” is an understatement. There are so many Americans suffering right now, and I think it is important to be mindful of them. Many are vulnerable to health risks or have lost their jobs. These stories are heartbreaking, and they underscore our need to act with compassion.

The great news is that many are acting with compassion.

Humanity’s capacity for benevolence and innovative thinking has been on full display, as people everywhere have been helping others, whether by coordinating donation efforts of food and medical supplies, supporting local businesses that have been harshly impacted, or organizing efforts for us to stay connected while we are apart. Even little things—simply maintaining social distance and not hoarding at the grocery store—can have a big impact for the nation as a whole.

This effort has been taxing for many and likely will continue to be. During these stressful times, we need to remember to give ourselves what we need to stay safe and mentally healthy.

Remember that social distancing does not mean social isolation.

Try to connect with someone every day. Modern technology has given us innumerable ways to stay connected, so why not take advantage of them? Even if you don’t want to video conference, phone calls are still a great way to stay in touch with friends and relatives. With more time on our hands indoors, now could also be a great time for the forgotten art of letter writing.

Moreover, there are other things we can do to keep our spirits up. Find ways you can be physically active and get outside if you can. Take this time to reflect on what you are grateful for. And remember that while things may seem bleak, there is still beauty in this world. We all have the ability to create or cultivate this beauty, and we can all let it into our lives.


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