Point of View: Opportunities for kindness and caring have never been as ripe

Editor’s note: This opinion piece has been corrected to note that Aaron Weisser has a doctor of philosophy degree, or Ph.D.

On March 18 I had lunch at Fat Olives. It was just hours before they shut down. My server, a gal who has served me lunch there many times, is really good at her job. That Wednesday she was her usual smiling self. I asked her how her life was going to be impacted by our new reality. Her 6-year-old is out of school, and she was likely out of work. That’s really lame. I gave her a big tip.

The opportunities for kindness and benevolence are rarely as ripe and plentiful as they are right now — literally everywhere you look. And there are three easy ways to miss out.

Method No. 1: Keep busy yelling “Oh the humanity!” Focus on lamenting the awfulness of the human race. Of course, the reasons aren’t good ones. For example, you see empty shelves at the grocery store and conclude that society has descended into frenzied self-preservation and hysteria. And you start lecturing the world about panic buying.

But retailers plan with razor sharp predictions of normal consumption rates and stock accordingly. Even slight unpredicted changes in demand will temporarily deplete supply.

The operating assumption is that my purchases are reasonable, but the purchases of others are excessive. Yes, a few people probably bought more than they need. Instead of bemoaning humanity, ask someone you know or someone you meet “What are you lacking?” and if you have it, offer it to them.

Method No. 2: Stay busy griping about stupid leaders. I should warn you: those who carry contempt are never the heroes of the story. You are certainly entitled to have an opinion. You are certainly allowed to believe that the experts are wrong. Maybe they’re not taking it seriously enough. Maybe they have gone way too far. Maybe your read on the medical, political, and economic evidence is precisely correct and exactly what the world needs.

But you can be correct and wrong at the same time. Disdain doesn’t help. Contempt doesn’t help. Verbally trashing on powerful decision makers doesn’t help. If you carry contempt, people with real needs will avoid you like the virus. It’s seeping into your conversations like a foul stench.

Your opinions, when solicited, are better presented with humility and grace. If you don’t have that to offer, maybe keep your sociopolitical expertise to yourself and instead ask the person standing right in front of you “How are you being affected by decisions that are made, and how can I help you?”

Method No. 3: Stay busy touting your own right responses. I love that we all respond differently and yet we are all exercising exactly the right amount of caution, the right amount of faith, the perfect amount of concern. We are not too worried and not too casual. It’s those other people that are overreacting. It’s those other people that are not taking this seriously enough.

You are right. Other’s will respond poorly. But how will you respond to them? Instead of focusing on the legitimacy of your own responses, call someone up and ask “How are you doing?” Let them know, “We are in this together and I’m here for you.” Stand in the gap.

In short, less talking, more listening. Fewer opinions, more questions. Brief discussion, bold action. Be the solution.

So many in our little hamlet get it. It has been truly amazing to see so many people from so many parts of our community rally to support each other. I know The Homer Foundation is making a difference by channeling your generosity to meet needs. That’s the Homer I know and love. Don’t miss out.

For our part, on March 27 we launched the I LOVE HOMER Relief Fund with an initial allocation of $25,000 for local relief. The fund is now over $60,000 and is already meeting local needs. To see the many ways you or someone you know can benefit from this fund, go to www.ilovehomer.org.

We’ve done our best to balance due diligence with minimal bureaucracy so that help is available quickly. You can help us meet needs by spreading the word.

In this with you,

Aaron Richard Weisser, Ph.D.

Aaron Richard Weisser is the Pastor of Church on the Rock Homer and has a Doctor of Philosophy.