While the coronavirus pandemic is having devastating effects, what we can take from it is the love, concern and care shown by the dedicated caregivers, nurses and medical workers. It is phenomenal.
The goodness and love of millions of humans has come shining through. There are neighbourhood help movements growing online. In Canada, an online network is helping the elderly, neighbours are helping neighbours. In Italy, people are singing from balconies to cheer up those in quarantine. People are also changing to healthier diets and recognising what is really important in life.
The greatest good out of all of this is the dedication of caregivers and medical workers. Eighty-year-old Elizabeth would not survive the coronavirus if not for Margi, her devoted caregiver. Every day, Margi Gonzalez risks getting infected on her rounds visiting her many patients in the community centre. She treats any sores, takes blood pressure and temperatures and sees that they are comfortable, fed, and taking their medicine on time. Elizabeth and others are being monitored for the coronavirus after one member of the community tested positive. Thousands of caregivers like Margi are slowing the spread of the deadly contagious infection. She was a migrant from the Philippines to Britain.
There are many good people like Margi on the front line. Many are former migrants or refugees, who fled poverty, oppression, fear and suffering for a new, better life. Now the nations they fled to can benefit from their skills and service. That is a positive result of a sad history of human rights violations and injustice. Margi was marked as a protest leader and fled the death squads employed by a mining firm to quell the protest against the mining corporation taking over their farmland.
Thousands of descendants of Irish migrants are in the medical profession around the world now fighting coronavirus. From 1845 to 1849, starving Irish migrants fled from British colonial exploitation of Ireland and the famine that they caused and allowed. British politicians and families had taken Irish land by force and became rich. The Irish were impoverished. They fled as refugees and migrants to America.
The United States was then a land of freedom, hope and opportunity for the oppressed and the poor. Thousands of Irish fought and died in the civil war against slavery. Now, under Trump, it is a closed fortress ruled by an anti-migrant white supremacist clique incapable of responding strongly and correctly to the coronavirus pandemic and are instead allowing it to spread.
We all are challenged to fight the coronavirus by avoiding all contamination by self-quarantine, hand washing, keeping social distance, and getting tested when protocols require. We must respect, honour and support those who are risking all to help us win.
(Fr. Shay Cullen)