"Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." ~1st Corinthians 12:7
In our community, like many others, we can only go out to shop, exercise outdoors, or seek medical help. In Asheville, we are locked down. On a recent trip to the grocery store, I noticed people avoiding me and subtly I was avoiding them. Now it would be easy to take this personally, but social distancing has become the norm.
And at first, I was a little put off, but through a good and healthy self-scolding, I realized it wasn’t something to take personally. It was my neighbors complying with the new way of life. Politeness and respect has emerged in most people I see. People waiting for others to go by, to keep the six-foot barrier. Conversations in parks held at a distance.
As I have thought about it, what else would I have expected? Most people are following the rules. Trying in their own way to eliminate the impact of the Coronavirus. A banding together by Americans to do whatever they can to help fight this deadly disease. This is what I have seen in America for many decades. In tough times, Americans help out.
Now you might hear, not everyone is pitching in. Certainly, we have the famous video from Miami Beach with college students partying. But I can also tell stories of grandchildren shopping for their grandparents, who can’t go out. I can tell stories of young adults working in supermarkets wiping down shopping carts after every use for new customers. These stories about our youth won’t make the news, only the bad seems to get on the national news.
I can tell a story about a friend who isn’t complying. But I can tell many more stories about those who are.
I know a few are hoarding toilet paper and Tylenol. But I know far more that are pitching in and helping.
I can tell the story of the CEO of Lilly working with his competitors to find a cure. I can tell you about the researchers at the University of Pittsburgh who have worked long hours to find a vaccine, which they think they have found.
I can tell the story of a police officer in Minnesota, pulling over a doctor, not to give her a ticket, but the facemasks for her day at the hospital.
In the same grocery store I mentioned earlier, the store manager is giving food to a local food bank.
Kindness does exist and it is much bigger than we may hear.
And I know when this is all done, even more stories of heroism will emerge. Sure, there will be some that will emerge that aren’t heroic; these are the ones that will be seen to lift media ratings.
I know what I am seeing and hearing and you could call me an optimist. But I see far more acts of working together than not. This is the America in which I grew up. Neighbors taking care of neighbors.
And we all have a choice in what we see. We can either curse the darkness or light a candle. And most will light a candle.
I know this not through my own observations, but through what I know about the human condition that exists in all people, not just here in my home America. I have also seen this on the five continents I have visited. Neighbors caring about each other. In every country, not just mine. For, in each of us the Spirit of God dwells. I have seen too many acts of kindness to be persuaded otherwise.
And my view is biblically sound as well, especially when you read 1st Corinthians 12:7, where it says; "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good," a simple message layered throughout the Bible that is easily missed. And the statement is very clear; in each of us dwells the Holy Spirit, which desires common good.
And this is what I see in my home called America. But I have also seen it in France, the Middle East, in South Korea, and in the immigrants who come to our land.
It is our choice what we see or don’t see. But I know what God sees, because the Spirit of God exists. God sees all that we do and think. God knows every hair on our head, our desires and plans. God knows us, better than we know us.
Now you may call me an optimist, but I also have statistics to prove my point. As a former CFO of major retailers, I had to study theft, who stole from retailers and who didn’t. Here is what I discovered. Only two percent or so stole from our stores. When we looked by demographic, we never found any particular group was more prone to stealing.
As a retailer, we had the choice to focus on those who stole, or focus on who didn’t. We always chose to believe in our customers.
Likewise, we all have this same choice, to focus on the bad or to see what God sees.
The Spirit of God dwells in all and in all the desire to do good. Life can scar us and tinge our views. But here in America, I see far more good.
God is looking for the good in all people, and God will find it.
Let today be our day to find what God sees.
Bruce Hartman is a Christian author who, after more than three decades in the business world at companies like Footlocker and Yankee Candle, obtained a master's and doctorate degree in ministry. He is the author of "Your Faith Has Made You Well," writes devotions, and hosts a podcast.