Are We Engaging in Social Change? 

by on March 23, 2020 · 5 comments

in From the Soul

by Ernie McCray

This COVID-19 thing
is so far beyond
anything I’ve ever seen,
and I’ve
been around a
health scare or two,
born to a mother
who, because she
had lost a lung to TB,
raised me
to practically seek cover
when someone coughs
or happens to sneeze,
to not, for goodness sake,
ever eat off somebody’s plate
or take a sip of their soda or shake…

Then, suddenly, my focus

on tuberculosis,

was crippled, pun intended,

by polio,

as I was being told,

if I wanted to grow old,

I’d better stay away from

the swimming hole

and forget about

drinking from the water fountain

or going to the movie show

or the rodeo –

and stay away from crowds,

for crying out loud…

Then, with cures and vaccinations,

for, seemingly,

every kind of bug there is,

we lived for years

with very few wide-spread fears

about epidemics and pandemics,

and such,

especially if it was an infirmity

that didn’t, generally,

concern us

as AIDS was a “gay disease.”

Ebola? That’s a problem overseas.

Then along comes COVID-19

and the whole wide world is

totally ill-at-ease,

wearing masks,

abandoning tasks,

on its knees in prayer,

washing its hands religiously,

wondering if a runny nose

or a breathless feeling

is due to an allergy

or COVID-19;

if that yearly sore throat

this time

is a sign

of COVID-19;

if a cough

is because

a piece of pizza

went down the wrong pipe

or because

of COVID-19.

And, yet, in the panic,

in the hoarding of goods

and buying guns

and selling needed items

at prices that stun notions

of empathy and sympathy,

in the incompetency

of those in high places

charged with dealing with

such a catastrophe –

in all of that I see beauty

as nothing looks as wonderful

as a world of people

learning to look out

for each other,

trying to figure out

where and how

we can work and play,

where we can go

and where we can stay,

so many going about in

life affirming ways:

“senior hours” at stores;

children writing cards

for people in nursery facilities;

Italians making music

together from their balconies;

hungry kids

being fed in their communities;

Girl Scouts

donating cookies

to medical workers and food pantries;

young folks taking flowers

and groceries

to aging friends

and those who are unknown to them,

checking on how they’re coping;

neighbors greeting each other,

from safe distances,

with friendly smiles

and open hearts

as they meet,

walking their streets;

people listening to their collective cries and needs

paving the way for new ways to be.

New ways to be.

I stand in awe

of the reality

that a virus could be the energizer

for the social change

the world so desperately needs,

that it could

help us create better

lives for all of humanity,

the whole human race.

The very thought of it

puts a smile on my old face.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve Haslet. March 23, 2020 at 12:47 pm


Great thoughts. Thank you.


Daniel Joseph Smiechowski March 23, 2020 at 2:39 pm

My Mother suffered through incessant RAF and Polish cracker jack pilots dropping hellfire on Le Havre France during WWII. The krauts finally capitulated as POW’s and begged American soldiers to not be released to the advancing Polish troops. They were rightfully slaughtered as my Mother was hospitalized with tuberculosis. My Father arrived and saved her. They were married in a bombed church. We shall survive.


Colleen Dietzel March 24, 2020 at 2:06 pm

Thank you Ernie, Your words are always so inspiring and comforting.


Dave Baldwin March 25, 2020 at 11:56 pm

An excellent poem/commentary, Ernie! Thank you. If humanity can survive this difficult crisis (and I think we will), we can become a much more empathetic, cooperative species. I’m looking forward to living long enough to see it.


Jeeni Criscenzo March 27, 2020 at 9:12 am

Thanks Ernie. We need more of what you got!


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