On March 20, 2020, Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott International, released a short YouTube video shining a dawning light of hope on Marriott’s future. In spite of so many painful cutbacks, he pointed out that China has already begun its comeback with no new covid-19 cases. His brief 5-minute statement is worth our momentary review to sense the message of hope in the midst of today’s coronavirus epidemic. Sorenson’s message is the empathetic hopeful news we need at this time to believe in healing.
Along with that clip, you might look for another book published back in 1981, quite appropriate at this time. It’s the classic When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner. Amazon’s review of this timely book reveals its heartbreaking story:
When Harold Kushner’s three-year-old son was diagnosed with a degenerative disease that meant the boy would only live until his early teens, he was faced with one of life’s most difficult questions: Why, God? Years later, Rabbi Kushner wrote this straightforward, elegant contemplation of the doubts and fears that arise when tragedy strikes. In these pages, Kushner shares his wisdom as a rabbi, a parent, a reader, and a human being. Often imitated but never superseded, When Bad Things Happen to Good People is a classic that offers clear thinking and consolation in times of sorrow.
As you read this book, you will discover that hope arises from the reality of what seems to be tragic to the truth that we need one another. We are built physiologically to reach out to one another. When bad things happen to good people, others are there to reach out to those in need. This is the innate human capacity of empathy, that when another is in trouble, that becomes the opportunity for us to step in and provide help.
The most marvelous display of human sensitivity during this unbelievable crisis happening across the world is the phenomenal dedication of health service personnel reaching out to those suffering the effects of Covid-19. The outstanding commitment of caregivers in the health profession is beyond expression. Many of these doctors, nurses, health care professionals have literally sacrificed themselves in the pursuit of providing for the victims of today’s plague.
We humans have set up our world for what it is; we take responsibility for what we have managed to put together; we must continue to manage our earth. When bad things happen to good people, it is our opportunity and responsibility to reach out to the victims of the bad things to help those good people who are hurting. This life threatening epidemic is our opportunity to provide care for those suffering the bad things.
This is the human response of empathy, that innate capacity of recognizing another’s pain and of answering the plea to respond to our neighbor’s plight.
This is the message of trust Arne Sorenson suggests, that there is hope for healing. We will rise from this setback, because this crisis too will pass. We hurt for the victims but we move on with theirs and our pain in the true hope that our future will heal us into a new life that grows out of our empathic care and love for one another. Though hurting now, we will heal together after this crisis which has united us through our shared care of each other.
1 Kushner, Harold (1981) When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Random House, New York, N.Y.