IT’S NEVER BEEN difficult to find news. Nowadays, with the whole wide world just a Google away, that’s more true than ever. Under normal circumstances, good news—silver linings, good Samaritan tales, glimmers of humanity operating at its best, the sort of news that so often feels in comparatively short supply—seems like a gift when you stumble across it. In the era of COVID-19, however, good news often feels like oases with long stretches of desert between.
That’s not to say it’s not out there. Often, you find it in local media, like when KATV covered the story of a postal worker who left Doe’s Eat Place in Little Rock a tip of $2,200 for his $12 lunch bill. Sometimes, you can even find those local stories elevated to coverage in major outlets, like when both CNN and The Washington Post covered the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s Bedtime with Bach series.
Most often, however, perhaps because there’s considerably less editorial curation, those silver linings are at their best in intimate moments posted to social media: a message of “LOVE” spelled out on the Arkansas River Trail with leaves, seed pods and sticks; an entire street of teddy bears in the homes’ windows for strolling families; streaming videos from Arkansas expats (my personal favorite was Arkansas Life contributor Billy Reeder’s footage from his marina on the Texas coast).
With that in mind, I asked folks on social media to share examples they’d seen of humanity at its very best during this trying time. Here are just a few of the anecdotes they shared:
“I’ve read the most pleasantly toned posts on social media. I’ve heard from lots of old friends and not friends. We seem to be collectively acknowledging this is hard for everyone, and there’s a common thread, at last, that’s so blatant it cannot be misinterpreted.”
“Saw a woman ‘visiting’ an elderly woman who lives in an assisted living facility. The senior was on her balcony, and the younger woman was standing in the drive.”
“Lots of lovely friends are making and donating cloth masks right now. And so many good folks have come together to make sure the kiddos get meals while they’re out of school.”
“I have three unique and individual neighbors that stop at my tea stand every week and drop a $5 to $20 bill on my table and tell me they love me and love my grit and want to see me make it. It’s been five weeks now, and I have told them it’s not necessary, yet they still do it. One even stocked me up on dog biscuits so I could keep my dog box filled out front for the neighborhood pups. People are amazing.”
“There was a couple giving away sack lunches for truck drivers, and then another family around maybe the Russellville area providing free food for truckers as well.”
“Pulaski Heights Middle School will be taking care of children of UAMS employees working on the front line since so many day cares are closed.”
“Heard a trucker on an NPR segment share that a stranger gave him several bags of groceries and thanked him for keeping the deliveries moving.”
“Wednesday Night Poetry, the longest-running consecutive weekly poetry open mic in the country, is keeping up our tradition every week through this pandemic. I am the host, and I have opened it up to poets all over the world. It’s become pretty inspiring and beautiful.”
“Yesterday, the most wonderful thing happened to me. Because all our salon businesses have been shut down by the governor, it’s been difficult to keep going and keep the bills paid. Yesterday, one of my longtime clients pulled up in front of my salon. I went out to her car. She handed me an envelope and told me it was something to help me; then she and her husband drove home. I went inside the salon and opened the envelope, and in it was $500 in $20 bills. My jaw dropped. I was able to pay my rent.”
“Our friend Paige sews masks every night after her 3-year-old son falls asleep—and she leaves the masks in a box on her porch so people like my husband, Ryan, who suddenly find themselves required to wear masks at work in a grocery store, can anonymously pick up what they need in a hurry! She’s our heroine.”
“My friend’s mom was looking for a fun thing to do for Easter since the family wasn’t able to be together, so she painted all of the family’s portraits on wooden eggs, and it’s my favorite thing of all time.”
I’d like to make this an ongoing list, so if you’ve got any good news you’d like to share, email me at email@example.com, and we’ll add it to the list above.
Jordan P. Hickey