Columnists Opinion Starlett Quarles

Coronavirus and the rise in our global humanity

Webster defines humanity as “compassionate, sympathetic, or [exhibiting a] generous behavior or disposition.” And ironically, now more than ever we are blessed to witness a rise in our global humanity as the world continues to be viciously attacked by the novel coronavirus.

While these current times are extremely scary and uncertain, it has been refreshingly beautiful for me to see how the coronavirus has been able to bring us all together, while yet still forcing us apart. For many, having to socially distance themselves and self isolate from their world can be very lonely and depressing; because we all need human connection and acknowledgment in order to effectively thrive in our society.

And yet, despite this need for human contact and social interaction, many of us have still been able to adapt to how we express our need for human connection and recognition. That is, during the most uncertain period of my lifetime, I have seen more acts of compassion, sympathy and generosity being displayed all over the world.

I first saw it in Italy. Being one of the world’s hardest hit by the pandemic, Italy’s current death toll has reached more than 6,000 lives amongst its total of 63,928 cases. It has become one of the world’s major hotspots and one of the first countries to force its nearly 6 million citizens into self-quarantine.

But as I continued to watch the news footage on the outbreak’s devastating impact on Italy’s population and economy; out emerged a number of local stories reflecting the country’s unwavering spirit.

The media began sharing stories of Italians singing patriotic songs to each other from their balconies — and above their empty streets — to help support one another and lift their spirits in solidarity. And then this expression of humanity hit social media and went viral; and emerged a flurry of posts similar to that of Italian resident @romepix who shared a video with the post: “A viral montage of Italians all over Italia from north to south to central to the islands, all signing together during the Italy Lockdown is a kind of triumph of spirit, a love in the time of coronavirus.”

And the Italians weren’t the only ones. Videos of “balcony serenades” began flooding social media from Lebanon and Spain; along with posts from the Chinese city of Wuhan of residents shouting from their open windows messages of love for their neighbors, and support for their stricken city. It was really wonderful to watch.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. and eventually forced many Americans to also self isolate and practice social distancing. And like other countries all over the world, we too have risen to our highest display of human kindness, compassion and generosity.

We’ve seen the countless number of medical professionals and first responders who have continuously put their lives on the line, despite not having adequate personal safeguards, equipment, supplies or staffing. We’ve also seen the professional athletic community step up to the plate, with athletes like Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Lee, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and the Lakers, Clippers and Kings, all donating funds to help pay the salaries of their arena employees.

The entertainment community has also mobilized for the betterment of the American spirit. Essence magazine reports on the Global Citizen’s “Together At Home”series, which is a partnership with the World Health Organization that hosts celebrities on “Instagram Live for musical performances as a way to lift spirits and encourage everyone to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic.” Previous performances have included John Legend, Common, Chris Martin and Charlie Puth; with Miguel, Ziggy Marley, and Anthony Hamilton being recently added to their lineup.

And last week, hip hop icon DJ DNice was said to have “broken the internet” with his nine-hour jam session from his Instagram Live page entitled “Homeschoolin: A Social Distance Dance Party.” With more than 100,000 viewers and counting, CNN reports that over 100 celebrities had also joined in on DNice’s party, including Naomi Campbell, Donnie Walhberg, Janet Jackson and Oprah Winfrey, to name a few.

But nothing has warmed my heart more than the expressions of humanity I’ve seen from my own beloved city of Los Angeles. From the many organizations and volunteers supporting at-home parents with breakfasts and lunches for their children, to the repurposing of 13 recreational centers to temporarily house the homeless, and the establishment of the Community Response System of South L.A. During this global crisis, Los Angeles has truly emerged to become a “City of Angels.”

I wish I had enough room to share all the many expressions of our human connectivity, and acknowledge all of our individual efforts to take care of one another during this global health crisis. But suffice it to say, God sees it all.

However, my ultimate wish is that during, and after, this new life of self-quarantine and social distancing, we continue our global solidarity in nurturing the needs of the human spirit. As the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

Starlett Quarles is a Gen X Advocate, public speaker and host of the internet TV Talk Show, “The Dialogue with Starlett Quarles.” For more, please visit www.TheDialogueLA.com.