What He Said

“This is a challenging and solemn time in the life of our nation and world. A remorseless invisible enemy threatens the elderly and vulnerable among us, a disease that can quickly take breath and life. Medical professionals are risking their own health for the health of others, and we’re deeply grateful. Officials at every level are setting out the requirements of public health that protect us all, and we all need to do our part.

The disease also threatens broader damage, harm to our sense of safety, security and community. The larger challenge we share is to confront an outbreak of fear and loneliness, and it is frustrating that many of the normal tools of compassion, a hug, a touch, can bring the opposite of the good we intend. In this case, we serve our neighbor by separating from them. We cannot allow physical separation to become emotional isolation. This requires us to be not only compassionate, but creative in our outreach, and people across the nation are using the tools of technology in the cause of solidarity.

In this type of testing we need to remember a few things. First, let us remember we have faced times of testing before. Following 9-11 I saw a great nation rise as one to honor the brave, to grieve with the grieving and to embrace unavoidable new duties, and I have no doubt, none at all, that this spirit of service and sacrifice is alive and well in America. Second, let us remember that empathy and simple kindness are essential powerful tools of national recovery. Even at an appropriate social distance, we can find ways to be present in the lives of others, to ease their anxiety and share their burdens. Third, let’s remember that the suffering we experience as a nation does not fall evenly. In the days to come it will be especially important to care in practical ways for the elderly, the ill and the unemployed. Finally, let us remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat. In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants, we are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God. We rise or fall together and we are determined to rise. God bless you all.”

— George W. Bush

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