From panic to preparation and prayer in these frightening times  

Is anybody out there deeply frightened by the state of affairs in our country and in our world? All the sinister fictitious movies about the otherworldly concept of Armageddon are seemingly plotting their way into real life! From death tolls mounting from disease outbreaks of all sorts or having to wait too long and being too poor at a public hospital to murder and mayhem in crime infested communities, missing airplanes, failing economies and glaring injustices – we are overwhelmed with enough trauma and negativity to make the most optimistic among us sag in despair; make us want to pinch ourselves and say no, it must be a scary movie or nightmare – oh please wake me up! The reality is enough to have many inwardly and outwardly cower in fear; except for the longstanding antidotes of courageous action and stubborn faith.

In times of great disaster and turbulence in our world, courageous action and stubborn faith have played a major role in husking humanity out of the ‘proverbial pit’. We must not forget to remember our legacy of courage – There has always been the indefatigable civil rights activist standing for justice knowing that his life may not be guaranteed on the other side of the struggle or the selfless health care worker with limited resources on the front line of disease outbreaks who risks her own life to heal with hope beating in her chest for a brighter day for the sick. (The Senegalese woman who nursed family members back to health should get a medal and our deepest respect; so should the hundreds of doctors and nurses who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, sometimes without the requisite compensation)

This kind of courageous action is not taken by the self-centred, adoration-seeking, unloving and wicked among us. This action is usually birthed from a dogged belief in the continuation of the generations or a hope and a faith in an unseen God on whom we lean on for miracles after we have emptied our hands and pockets of our best efforts and highest wisdom. Let our leaders, without fear of ridicule from the spiritually cynical, all cry out for divine intervention even as they thoroughly and vigilantly take courageous action to serve and protect the people who placed them in charge. Let there be humility to seek out the wisest wisdom from all corners of our collective intelligence and from on high. And even as we look to our leaders to manage this process and do the right things, particularly as it relates to disease outbreaks, we in our communities, businesses and families should play our part as well.

Here are some practical common-sense actions and positions of faith for us ordinary folks to consider:

  • Take personal hygiene to another level.
    • In addition to bathing and washing your hands often, apply a few other strategies to reduce your contact with germs and potential viruses. For example: take your own pens with you on the road to avoid having to use communal pens at bank counters and other offices. take a few extra ones for friends as well.
    • Avoid using public restrooms where possible, but if you must, travel with your own toilet paper and sanitizer to reduce your interaction with residual bodily fluids of other persons. Of course continue to hover over the toilet seats when doing your thing.
    • Handling plastic parking passes that pass through hundreds of indiscriminate hands on a daily basis is another area for attention. Maybe businesses that use the plastic ones can instead introduce the one-use / one-person paper options that have to be stamped. Of course this may cost more over time but are certainly more hygienic.
  • As much as is possible, prepare and carry your own food, but if you have to eat out, stick to the places you know and trust and the restaurateurs you have a relationship with. Again wash hands before and after eating. This is standard but let us remind ourselves and our families.
  • Keep your home clean and ensure your house is equipped with basic hygiene items like gloves, chlorine bleach, garbage bags, disinfectants, alcohol, toiletries etc. Let’s make it difficult for germs and viruses to get comfortable.
  • As some health practitioners will tell you, one of the best things we can do in these times is to make sure that our immune system is in good shape. This can be partially achieved through eating well, taking appropriate multivitamins and regular exercise. Strengthen yourself.
  • Like many of our heroic ancestors, decide to have a posture of stubborn hope and faith in God. Don’t let fear overcome you. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” – John 16:33. As a Christian country we believe in the God of the bible ‘In him we live and move and have our being” – Acts 17:28 So pray for your families, our leaders, our health workers, police officers, army, the media and others in our essential services. And remember that many ordinary people have overcome the troubles in our world – Ebola, Chik V, crime, poverty, you name it. Let their testimonies inspire us to be wise, do the best we can and to be hopeful.
  • One of the key perspectives on preserving life in the current disease outbreak is a move to send aid right in the heart of the crisis in West Africa. Kudos to Cuba, the US and other countries that understand this principle. Let’s adopt that approach on a community level as it relates to Chik V here in Jamaica. If your community is clean, maybe you can volunteer or give to another community where help is needed. “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you” – Matthew 7:12. It is high time we get rid of the postmodern concept of the ‘I’ and again embrace our ‘we’ heritage.

If we each play our part, maybe we can secure an ending in this ‘scary movie’ that leaves us triumphant as we courageously prepare, turn to God in faith and willingly help each other.

Any more ideas on how individuals, households, businesses and communities can play their part in these times? What can you do from your small corner?

Shelly-Ann Harris is a gender and family advocate and communication specialist who has held senior positions in several public and private sector entities in Jamaica. She is also a consultant for internationally funded projects in Jamaica and the region. Follow this blog to get an alert when the next post is made or follow her on Twitter @harrisshellyann


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