14 days of rethinking
My Friday had already been planned out the night before. I had developed the habit of listing down to-do lists for every day, and my list consisted primarily of three things concerning work. I always make sure these tasks are ticked off from my list at the end of the day (except for when the occasional procrastination takes hold of me). But today promised a different kind of motivation, one that got the work done in a day when you were supposed to have a week of preparation as the opening of classes loomed.
But getting locked down for 14 days was not part of that list, nor did I imagine it becoming part of anyone else’s. The news came unexpectedly: We were to be placed under quarantine. We had been doing all the necessary precautions to make sure there was no threat of the virus. But we were up against an invisible enemy, which, sadly, slowly crawled its way into our compound.
It was like a scene from the Passover in the Bible. Instead of smearing the blood of a sacrificial lamb on the door of our houses, we were spraying every nook and cranny of our houses with chlorine and soap. We were suddenly cautious, fearful, and anxious, as if the virus could strike any minute when we were most vulnerable.
By the time I finished my morning coffee, there were already barangay health workers knocking on our door and taking down our names. We were advised not to go out of our houses, and if we ever did, we had to be in full battle gear—masks, face shield, alcohol.
And just like that, there were policemen in front of our compound and barricades set in front of my grandmother’s decades-old sari-sari store. And as passersby saw this, they already knew what was happening.
So the last 14 days were spent in isolation from the rest of the world. But these 14 days were not spent in solitude. On the contrary, they served as a time for introspection, for rethinking more important matters.
We were provided basic necessities by people who selflessly extended help and assistance. But more than these provisions, we were also assured of prayers, concern, compassion, and acceptance. I believe that today’s times call for more important concerns other than one’s self. In the 14 days that we were on lockdown, I realized that it is innate among humans to look out for one another. That instinct for compassion, though rarely acknowledged, will continue to be there despite the cynicism of the modern world.
How many everyday acts of compassion are not captured by cameras or posted on social media? Countless perhaps. And every day, there are countless battles won because of quiet kindness, the ones that don’t demand attention and fame. The quieter they are, the more they are worth celebrating.
The battle against this pandemic is half won if we also believe that all of us are together in this fight. We will lose this battle if we lose our ability to care for others. We will be defeated if we think it’s every man or woman for himself, and that compassion and kindness for others have no place in that struggle. There is another virus that may well linger on after this pandemic — apathy.
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Sher Pauline C. Palola, 28, is a public school teacher in Pangasinan.
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