For us living locally, perhaps the most compelling news story of the past week was that concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19) prompted Gov. Brian Kemp to identify an area within Hard Labor Creek State Park as an emergency quarantine site to isolate and monitor infected Georgians. This action was described as one of many preemptive actions taken as part of a state-wide plan designed to keep citizens safe from the spread of the virus. The governor asked all Georgians to “support your neighbor because all of us are in this together.”
Then on Thursday morning, we awoke to news that, while in Australia for a film shoot, actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson had tested positive for the coronavirus. Adopting a one-day-at-a-time approach, they are currently isolating per public health and safety requirements.
That news caused me to wonder if Mr. Hanks hasn’t, in a fleeting moment, reflected on the scene from 25 years ago, when his character, Forrest Gump, prophetically compared life to a box of chocolates in that “you never know what you’re gonna get.” I found it ironic that Tom Hanks, whose every man persona has allowed him to successfully portray a vast array of characters, has unwittingly become the most recognizable face of the coronavirus.
I also wonder, if Mr. Hanks were to again assume the role of Mr. Rogers as in the 2019 film “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” what life lesson would he now introduce to his audience regarding the plight of our citizenry as we confront COVID-19? Being the prototypical good neighbor, I expect Mr. Hanks would authentically exhibit kindness, display empathy and encourage decency and cooperation.
As we try to adapt to new roles requiring adjustment to novel circumstances, inconveniences and even hardships, we best remain mindful of others less fortunate. This is a time to put aside partisanship, give thanks for our many blessings and extend helping hands. To quote Mr. Rogers, “…won’t you be my neighbor?”