Photo by Andrew Shelley on Unsplash

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There’s a new soundtrack in our lives: Stay home. Wash your hands. Avoid contact with others. Yet these community orders are all individual acts that, done together, can stop the spread of COVID-19. A handful of dedicated 20-second scrubbers can’t stop the disease. But scrubbing together works. It is making a difference.

As we work together to stop the disease from spreading, you can still make a difference — by yourself. You can do it right now, and you wouldn’t be alone.

In the middle of a pandemic, as nurses, doctors, grocers, and drivers put themselves at risk every day so the rest of us can stay home, we’ve seen people helping in ways they know they can. Out-of-work chefs are hustling meals to emergency room workers. Creative arts educators are sewing masks. Neighbors are assembling impromptu contact-free scavenger hunts. The community, in short, is communing in new ways.

Make no mistake. We cannot distance ourselves from the grim facts of COVID-19. More than 20,000 people have died in the U.S. already. Even among the perfectly healthy, the coronavirus has exposed the tremendous economic inequality baked into our society. These are realities we must remember and learn from if we hope to recover with even more resilience.

While the individual fallout from the coronavirus may vary, no one has escaped its grasp. The uncertainty can be scary, even debilitating. We are all feeling this, but can be buoyed by moments of generosity from others until we come out on the other side.

Despite a few false starts, we have already made progress together. In larger cities where daily death rates are counted in the hundreds, health officials believe physical distancing measures are in fact flattening the curve. We can do the same here at home.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s still a long tunnel and we can’t afford to let our optimism get the best of us and endanger those most vulnerable.

There is something about crises that galvanize our human connections. Shared experiences like this don’t come around often, but their legacies can be transformational. As we sit at home alone but together, we can all take a moment to share some kindness with others.

This week, you’ll read about the mask makers, chalk artists, sympathetic restaurant workers, food bank managers, and others whose everyday work serves as anchors in the storm. What will your legacy be?

It doesn’t have to be anything earth-shattering. Checking in with a neighbor or sending a text message to a loved one: Simple acts that connect us can make a difference.

If that feels like a lot to ask — we’re all experiencing this differently — the good news is that it’s not all on you, and these moments can come even when you aren’t feeling so optimistic. Lean on your friends and neighbors and let them lean on you, looking for some kindness amid this crushing crisis.