"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
While these words always seem to push me to do better, they are especially poignant in a crisis. There are Brothers and non-Brothers alike who are providing vital services for our nation and the world, but not everyone can serve so actively. So, for everyone out there who wants to get involved but doesn’t know how, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight other ways you can utilize this time to “step into the arena” and help as our nation continues to fight this COID-19 epidemic.
- Stay home. It seems counterintuitive, but sometimes doing nothing is doing everything. Even as some states begin to “reopen”, the best way to contain this sickness is to continue to minimize and prevent non-essential travel and contact.
- Donate to your favorite charities. I won’t delve into the specifics of the Joint Masonic COVID Relief Fund, as RWB Morgan has done that eloquently in a previous article, nor talk about my role as “Deputy COVID Czar”, other than to point out that you can help by donating or volunteering to provide time or materials. There are also other great Masonic and non-Masonic charities out there who could benefit from your donation.
- If you provide vital services, continue to do so. Our medical staff, first responders, and emergency managers are not the only ones providing essential services. Your local grocery store clerk, delivery person, or business owner are now essential. Shop local, buy gift cards, and tip delivery drivers extra to help them get through this time.
- Volunteer your time. There are any number of organizations that have adapted to social distancing and personal protection and are continuing to help those in need. One of my favorites is Team Rubicon, a volunteer disaster response organization that focuses on veterans and first responders, but also is welcoming to any “kick ass civilian” who wants to roll up their sleeves and help. COVID-specific opportunities with TR can be found here: https://teamrubiconusa.org/neighbors/
- Call someone from your Lodge you haven’t talked to recently. As our Grand Master said, while in-person activity has stopped, Masonry and Brotherly Love haven’t. You never know who is feeling isolated or alone, and a call could make all the difference. This is especially important for those in vulnerable populations such as the elderly, those with pre-existing conditions, or those living with someone in a vulnerable population.
- Cut down on food waste. We’ve all now heard about the impacts that COVID has had to our food supply chain. While meat production is down a little, the effects can be mitigated if we avoid hoarding, and we use what we buy. According to Feeding America, each year, 72 billion pounds of food goes to waste while 37 million Americans struggle with hunger. Idealist.org and Healthline recommend a few simple ways to cut down on food waste, including storing food in the proper place (and at the proper temperature), waiting to wash produce until you’re ready to use it (to avoid mold), freezing anything that you don’t expect to use in the near future (if freezing is possible), making a stock, composting, and eating your leftovers!
- Give blood. Despite some frustrating restrictions on who can and cannot donate blood due to lifestyle factors, blood donation is still vital, and many blood banks have seen a decreased stock during COVID. Find out where to donate here
As Masons, we look to serve. We serve each other, our communities, and the world. Every year, Masons give millions to charities and donation countless hours of their time volunteering. It is at the core of our being “good and true”. That is needed now, more than ever, and everyone, from the newest Entered Apprentice to the most senior Past Master, can participate.