The true measure of a community and its people is not to be found in the good times but the bad. From Oklahoma City to Boston, New York to Paris, from Southern Pines to Wuhan — it is how a community responds to adversity that tells you who they are and what they’re about.

This sentiment is certainly not original, but that makes it no less true: We are all in this together — even if we can’t physically be together.

The coronavirus, believed by experts to be 10 times more virulent than the flu, is upon us, and its transmission rate is currently far faster and more capable than our nation’s or state’s response to it. About 2 million testing kits are only just this week starting to go out, but when you distribute those among 50 states, they just don’t go very far. But even with those numbers, we are likely to find far more positive cases of the virus in the days ahead.

And yet, now is not the time to panic. There is plenty of food in the nation’s pantry. Medicine is still available. Even toilet paper, seemingly wiped out of existence in recent days, will get replenished.

Here’s what is needed at this time: grace, patience, awareness, kindness and even humor. For we have shown time and again we are at our best — as a community, as a nation — when times are at their worst.

Stay Healthy

First, it is incumbent upon us to stay healthy, even if that means staying away from others. Perhaps you are a perfect specimen of health and won awards in elementary school for perfect attendance. That does not mean you are immune to the coronavirus, for even if you only develop mild symptoms from it, you are still a carrier for someone whose health may be compromised in other ways. And the coronavirus is highly contagious.

Failing a vaccine or even the means to adequately test, the main precaution we all can take to keep ourselves healthy is to keep our distance from others. Yes, that’s hard. Generally, we tend to congregate, whether it’s in church or the aisles of Walmart. We crave social interaction, camaraderie, sharing a coffee or a beer with others.

Others — in Iran, Italy, France — did not heed the warnings. We have a chance to be our best selves and step up by stepping back. If we can best help ourselves — and others — by slowing down and hanging back at home, then that seems only reasonable.

Do Unto Others

Once we take care of ourselves, it then becomes incumbent to find ways to do well by others, to show some thoughtfulness. Think of how we all respond after a snow storm. Once we dig ourselves out, we’re shoveling out a neighbor. We’re taking chain saws to felled trees in the road. We’re cooking meals for our elderly and shut-ins.

Even in our darkest of hours, we still are a rallying people. What does that look like for us now? It’s remaining calm and thoughtful. It’s buying what you need and leaving some behind for others to come. It’s being patient with others who are just as weary of being at home as you. It’s getting on social media and being positive rather than sniping irresponsibly from behind your keyboard.

The right answer here is to be kind; we’re all in uncharted territory doing what we think best. The radical act of precaution may seem a strong measure but will serve us well in the end.

And when the worst is behind us and life begins to right itself, it will be incumbent on us all to support this community — its people and businesses — to restore them and restore the pride we all have of this place.

Only then will we know our true measure.

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