We are in the process of reopening the U.S. The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on this country, an effect no one was prepared for nationally, locally and personally. Over 90,000 people have lost their lives to the virus. Unemployed Americans have topped the numbers of the Great Depression. The stay-at-home orders have frazzled the patience of many. COVID-19 has taken a toll on all of us.

Now, we are reopening. My hope is most of us in the U.S., Missouri and Boone County will be responsible and sensible as we reopen. We must continue to practice social distancing and wear masks. Businesses and churches must respond in a manner that will help us and not hurt us. We understand many people and businesses are in tough economic situations, but we cannot let profit become more important than people. If we think economic recovery will happen overnight, we are simply fooling ourselves. The process of restoration will take time. We must endure with hope and not be reckless.

I have heard lots of people talk about “returning to normal.” I hope we will not return to the normalcy of division and hatred we experienced before the pandemic. I hope we will be better people. Perhaps, the quarantine has transformed us to be more appreciative of community and activities we had taken for granted. I believe being forced to stay at home helped us garner greater respect and love for family and friends. We all are going through this pandemic together, so let us stay together in purpose for the common good.

We have learned some great lessons during this crisis. We have learned how we must never let politics and selfishness rule the day. We have learned the majority of Americans do care for other Americans, whether they are teachers, who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to encourage and equip their students, or essential workers, who have put their health and the health of their families at risk to care for us. We have also seen acts of kindness ordinary people have shown by sharing food, providing medication and essential items for seniors and others at risk and survivors of COVID-19 donating plasma to help others recover. We have learned some great lessons. If we remember the lessons, we will come through this better and wiser.

It is easy to be pessimistic and callous. There are a lot of things happening that, in the words of Marvin Gaye, “make you want to holla and throw up both your hands,” but I choose to stand on hope. The virus will spike with the reopening, but this time, we will be better prepared. Or at least I hope so.

The future is uncertain, yet if we sally forth courageously and sensibly, we shall see a great new day. Be hopeful.

The Rev. C.W. Dawson Jr. was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in philosophy at MU. He teaches at Columbia College and Moberly Area Community College and writes for the Missourian.

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