Honoring Our Ordinary Heroes During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tough times bring out the best in people. When we speak about heroes we normally think of our military, medical doctors, nurses, specialists, police, and fire personnel who undoubtedly deserve honor and praise for their unselfish service during this pandemic. Perhaps more important, let us not forget to honor our ordinary heroes who have put their lives on the line, working above and beyond for others during the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the international unrest and outcry against social injustices, inequality, and systemic and institutionalized racism. These heroes help us get through several difficult months and will faithfully continue being of service for the duration of this and future crises. We know we can count on their dedication, determination, generosity and commitment to serve all who need their skills, expertise and consistently reliable care.

We laud unsung heroes like the janitorial workers who clean and disinfect surfaces so our general populace will not get infected by COVID-19.

I am reminded of the quote by Mother Teresa, “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” Today’s heroes have no need for a cape or a rescue mission. For them, it does not only mean rescuing people by pulling them out and carrying them away from burning buildings. It means any selfless act that ensures someone else a better future. The scriptures in the Holy Bible talk about “fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, generosity, and self-control.” Anybody who demonstrates these characteristics is doing something heroic. Who are these ordinary people doing great and small things with great love, who we want to celebrate and honor as heroes in our community?

Who are these heroes?

When I think of heroes …
• I think of grocery store workers who prepare the essential items I need;
• I think of moms, dads, siblings, uncles, aunties, cousins, grandparents and friends who have unbelievable patience to teach our children when schools are shut down;
• I think of janitorial workers who clean and disinfect our public facilities to make sure I will not be infected by the virus;
• I think of sanitation workers who pick up my trash weekly;
• I think of custodial crews who keep grounds, lawns, gardens and yards raked, planted and trimmed, to give us beauty in our neighborhoods while enriching and uplifting our spiritual connection with our God;
• I think of postal workers who deliver my mail daily;
• I think of housekeepers who guarantee clean hospitals, hotels, restaurants, offices, private homes, churches, schools, business venues, public housing, care facilities and more;
• I think of caregivers who keep our KƉpuna smiling, healthy and comfortable every day;
• I think of Meals on Wheels kitchen crews and workers who deliver needed food daily to our KƉpuna;
• I think of all who continue to reach out to others throughout worrisome times of trouble;
• I think of thousands of peaceful protesters demanding for equal justice, opportunity and the right to the pursuit of happiness, here in our own neighborhoods, in our community as well as around the globe.

My daughters and grandchildren protested in a recent Black Lives Matter rally in San Diego, California.
Photo courtesy Vince G. Bagoyo, Jr.
Black Lives Matter rally here on Maui.
Photo: Vince G. Bagoyo, Jr.

Injustices occur every day to individuals, institutions, and befall entire people groups. We need to join the fight with our brothers and sisters to end institutionalized racism and social injustices. And it starts with a transformed heart. In the book of Psalms is the centrality of justice to faithful Christian living. No true Faith without justice. When we look to the Psalms, we discover that there is no true worship, faithful prayer or genuine faith that neglects justice. A recent article by The Gospel Coalition (TGC) says, “No true account of God makes justice an afterthought to His redemptive work in the world.” One thing is clear to all of us who believe the sovereignty of God that “we all need to bear witness to the Righteous King: doing justice. And in doing justice—however difficult or costly it may be—we testify in word and in deed to our God who brings justice to victory.” James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word and so decieve yourselves. Do what it says.” Change can only be realized when we act justly, walk humbly and to love mercy with God.

In the middle of this outbreak, many of us are scared, lonely, isolated and frustrated, feeling there is no hope. Yet, we can feel heartened, knowing we all share the same fears, have the same vulnerabilities and still can give hope to each other. A phone call, a text or email message and/or a drive by visit makes a big difference and will let others know they are loved, that someone cares. Let us each take time every day to be that neighbor, friend or family member who connects with those we love and care about and even to strangers, to let them know how much they mean to us and to tell them that they are LOVED.