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We once had a set-in-stone idea of which industries and professionals were most important to our society as a whole. As stay-at-home and self-quarantine orders are put in place across the world, the idea of what exactly is important has been flipped onto its back. Doctors, nurses, teachers, delivery-truck drivers, and grocery store attendants have proven to be the professionals we need for our world to run, and they are finally being celebrated. Now more than ever, we know exactly who is essential.

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Our Essential Heroes

These workers have put up with unprecedented insanity over the past month. Every day, they put their health on the line. Some hours are cut. Some hours are extended. Some people are working behind plastic dividers. Some people are policing how many can be in a store at once.

With businesses closing, streets emptying, and people being trapped at home, the world sounds more like an apocalyptic film than the world we previously lived in. Based on the track-record those films set up, it is almost expected that the truly ugly side of humankind will burst from our psyches and turn the world from fearful to truly chaotic.

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Thankfully, that is not the case. People across the world are instead proving they have pure hearts. Columnist George Monbiot  said it best, “The horror films got it wrong. This virus has turned us into caring neighbours.”

Ordinary Citizens Making an Extraordinary Difference

Take Wuhan, China, for example. As the original epicenter of the disease, the city was more or less shut down in late January, including public transport. In order to get medical workers from their homes and to the hospital, volunteers created a “community fleet” to drive these crucial professionals to and from work.

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With school closures affecting whether or not some students can eat, counties across the United States are setting up lunch hot-spots where minors can pick up a meal. Some are even based at public schools, allowing students not only ease of access, but a sense a familiarity they otherwise would have missed.

Packs of hand sanitizer, toilet paper, water, and food have been put together and distributed across the globe. Along with these groups of people making “survival packs,” a group in Cape Town has assembled a group of locals with medical expertise who can step in if hospitals are overwhelmed. In the United States, HospitalHero provides relief to healthcare workers who may be too busy to tend to their own needs in the form of meals and other accommodations.

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Businesses Stepping Up

As medical equipment is used to capacity, some companies are stepping up to fill the gap. General Motors, for instance, stepped away from building cars to build the ventilators hospitals across the country so desperately need. People have been picking up needle and thread to sew face masks and even scrubs, as the demand for these items has skyrocketed.

For those who may not have the skills to provide assistance in the form of supplies, some foundations are rising up in the form of financial relief. Superstar Rihanna has pledged one million dollars to coronavirus response through her Clara Lionel Foundation, and Jay-Z’s in grants towards COVID-19 response efforts will be matched by Jay-Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation.

“One of the extraordinary features of the response to Covid-19 is that, during this self-isolation, some people – especially elderly people – feel less isolated than they have done for years, as their neighbors ensure they are not alone,” the Guardian columnist, George Monbiot, says.

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The People Rise

We see evidence of this across the world. People are gathering to celebrate life and be social, but at a distance. People even gather on their balconies at the end of hospital shifts to cheer on the medical workers who desperately fight the virus as they head home, or head in. While it isn’t much, the gesture of appreciation is not lost on medical workers.

No matter where you are in the world, you can find videos of normal people seeking out their neighbors for a companion, but also to make sure they are all right. Men and women across the gorgeous country of Italy lit up the night by singing songs of hope together from their windows and terraces. It shows that even we do not know each other, we are in this together.

Though we are social distancing, we are coming together as a society more than ever. Where our governments have failed to provide the resources we need, the people are rising up to help their neighbors live comfortably in this difficult time– be it through mental or tangible means.

The virus is going to have negative effects on our populations and economy. That much cannot be argued. If we want to look for a bright side, however, it is possible that this virus will foster a sense of community that many may have thought was extinct. Perhaps we will be more willing to set aside our differences and promote kindness.