As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, you have to look carefully, but signs of our enduring strength and compassion are everywhere. Just look up.
Look up to the balconies and the rooftops and you will see the best examples of the human spirit providing the kind of inspiration and faith we all so desperately need right now.
It started in March, and it continues today. Residents who have endured a new world of empty streets and little traffic look up and see that the giant clouds of pollution, hanging over their cities like alien spacecraft, have vanished.
Look up and you can see the sunshine; and as the sun sets in the evening sky, you will see, in cities from New York to Rome, neighbors on balconies and leaning out of windows to raise a ruckus and show appreciation for essential workers as enthusiastically as they did more than a month and a half ago after separation guidelines became the norm.
The people they salute place duty and sacrifice for the common good ahead of personal health concerns. Those of us who have not been called upon to rise to that degree of sacrifice can't fathom the guts that takes. Raise your head, look out your window and you will see them.
In Naples, Italy, they are singing a song called "Abbracciame" from their balconies. It is a pop song by Andrea Sannino, and it is intended as an antidote to loneliness. The title translates to "hug me." One way or another, no matter what course the Covid-19 pandemic may take, Italians will find a way to hug one another.
We read about the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak might have originated. Isolation has ended there, but Wuhan residents still watch messages on TV from the government showing residents how to organize lion dances on their rooftops and how to do "indoor fishing." In Beijing, the Chinese government issued instructions to residents showing ways to turn a dining room into a pingpong stadium.
In Australia, residents launched an adopt-a-healthcare-worker program, in which volunteers take on the responsibility to bring food and other essentials to those on the front lines in hospitals, devoting 18-hour days. It's a very personal, one-to-one effort and highly successful.
Similarly, throughout Austria, schoolchildren organized on Twitter and Instagram to go shopping for residents who were at risk and homebound.
If you look up you can hear the cheering and clanging of some rather fine quality cookware on the balconies and rooftops of Paris.
I wish the press would take greater note of the hotels and taxi drivers in Paris who won't accept payment from healthcare workers and first responders. They did this quietly and, it being Paris, stylishly.
It is estimated that one-third of the world was on lockdown at the same time in March. In Mumbai, residents gathered on balconies throughout the city to play tambola, a form of bingo, which is extremely popular. The night sky, I am told, was uncommonly clear, adding to the game's excitement.
I spoke to a friend and on-site office contact from Madrid the other night. She lives in the neighborhood of Las Rosas, and she explained that every block "is choosing the person with the loudest voice." That person becomes the "bingo caller," with enthusiastic neighborhood games popping up throughout Spain.
If you look carefully at the signs being held aloft in Italy each evening, you will see the words "andra tutto bene" -- everything will be all right.
On the ground, the politicians may argue and posture. But on the rooftops and balconies, the people have come together.