This article appeared in the March 16, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Amid coronavirus uncertainty, words and gestures that offer balm

Corinna Kern/Reuters
Dogs play at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Israel, on March 15, 2020. The municipality building is lit in the colors of the Italian flag in solidarity during the coronavirus emergency.

Reassuring gestures offer balm for anxious times. There are the dramatic ones, as when Italian air force planes took to the skies in a roaring call for national unity, streaming the green, white, and red national colors behind them. There are the charming ones, as when Italians offered the globe a moment of joy, serenading each other from their balconies. There are the more modest ones, as when a landlord in South Portland, Maine, canceled his two tenants’ April payments. “We have a system that is interdependent,” Nathan Nichols told WMTW. “Even the smallest acts help in times of trouble.”

And then there are the words that help make sense of a moment. Last week, countless college students had little time to digest events as their campuses abruptly shut down. At Yale University, the news reached a rowing team amid afternoon practice – and coach Andrew Card stepped into action.

There was the offer of one last row the next morning, which was met with deafening cheers; there were videos and photos. And then, important words offering reassurance and perspective. “I reminded them that as they go forward ... they should always take the fork in the road that allows them to take more forks,” Mr. Card wrote to parents. “So now we scatter as circumstances require, but I remain confident that one of those forks will take them all the way back [here]. And just as any good stroke is a rhythmical cycle, so too I hope that everyone ... will share once again their heartfelt comradeship.”

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This article appeared in the March 16, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 03/16 edition
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