April 30, 2020

OUR BEST SELVES:

We Aren't Selfish After All: In turbulent times, people go from "me" thinking to "we" thinking. (JIM DAVIES, APRIL 29, 2020, Nautilus)

In the days after the World Trade Center fell, it wasn't just the police, hospitals, and firefighters who came forward to help, it was normal citizens who often put themselves at risk to help other people out. An equities trader named Sandler O'Neill helped rescue a dozen people and then went back to save more. A tour guide at the Pentagon helped victims outside, and then went back in the burning building to help more. We find these kinds of behaviors in every disaster.

During this pandemic, we see the same thing. Some acts are small and thoughtful, such as putting encouraging signs in windows. Others have made games out of window signs, putting up rainbows for children on walks to count. Some show support for health care and other frontline workers, applauding or banging on pots on their balconies and at windows in a nightly ritual. Others are helping in more substantial ways. In the United Kingdom, over half a million people signed up to be a National Health Volunteer, supporting the most vulnerable people, who have to stay home.

John Drury, a professor of social psychology at the University of Sussex, England, who studies people's behavior in disasters, has seen these acts of kindness in his own neighborhood over the past month. He and his neighbors set up a WhatsApp group to help one another with shopping. "I think that translates across the country and probably across the world," Drury says. "People are seeing themselves as an us, a new kind of we, based on the situation that we all find ourselves in. You've got this idea of common fate, which motivates our care and concern for others."

FDR, JFK, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush excelled at summoning us to do big things and be our best selves.  Sadly, we do not have the man to match this moment.  Happily, we've taken it upon ourselves.despite the obstacles.

Posted by at April 30, 2020 6:39 PM

  

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