Editorial: Humanity’s best and worst

Column By Melissa Martin

“A Tale of Two Cities,” by Charles Dickens, a classic that sums up life and death from the beginning to the ending. Human history is a narrative of war and peace, but also health and disease on planet Earth. And the lesson we continue to learn is that health is wealth. And people need people.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Our world is a two-sided coin with joy and tragedy. Our world is a double-edged sword with good and evil. Angels and demons. Fear and faith. However, between the black and white dichotomy, shades of gray exist. 

The worst of times. A recent story by journalist Steve Knight in The Herald-Zeitung tells the tale of shock, anguish, despair. T.J. Mendez from Texas died from complications of the COVID-19 virus, according to his family. Angela Mendez said her 44-year-old husband was a healthy man who didn’t smoke or drink. He worked out, ate healthily and took vitamins every day. 

A husband, father of six children, a kindergarten teacher, and a man of faith. “T.J. was a devoted Christian man,” said Pastor Ray Still of Oakwood Church. “He loved his wife and children, his Lord and the Lord’s church and served it faithfully. He will be greatly missed. All the people of Oakwood Church grieve with his wife and children and their loss.” www.herald-zeitung.com.

Why did T.J. Mendez die so young? I don’t know. All I know is that God is Alpha and Omega and there is an afterlife. Tears and prayers for this family. 

The worst of times. More than 600,000 people have been infected and at least 28,000 have died worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. The United States has become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, with 100,000 confirmed infections and 1,600 deaths. Visit www.coronavirus.jhu.

The worst of times. Individuals and businesses that price gouge during a disaster. “Attorneys general from California to Washington, D.C., say, companies must do more than play “whack-a-mole” and should immediately adopt policies that deter price gouging and give consumers a way to report violations. They also are urging companies to have a system in place to trigger price-gouging protections whenever there’s a natural disaster, epidemic or other emergency,” according to a recent article in USA Today.

The best of times. The Guardian Angels are stepping in to care for the city’s most vulnerable population — the homeless and emotionally disturbed —  who seem to have been forgotten as New York City shutters over coronavirus concerns, according to Craig McCarthy of The New York Post. On Saturday alone, the volunteer do-gooders helped more than 400 city vagrants clean up — and gave out 382 care packages. The supplies were donated or purchased by the group. Visit www.nypost.com.

The best of times. Schools and organizations that pack lunches for children during a pandemic. Medical professionals who work tirelessly to help patients. People helping people. 

The pandemic has confirmed we are one people, on one planet, connected by life and by death. We all inhale and exhale air. We all bleed red. One race—the human race.

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”—Fred Rogers

Melissa Martin, Ph.D. is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Southern Ohio. Contact her at melissamcolumnist@gmail.com.