Hold on and press on

It is wonderful to be alive. It is a precious gift to be conscious, to have the power to move and power to make choices. Our two beautiful countries, The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands are still the envy of the rest of the world. We must not forget these things, nor allow the present COVID-19, coronavirus challenge to cloud the overall bright and sunny sky.

This is particularly important as we note that in both The Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands numbers of COVID-positive cases continue to rise and precautionary measures remain in place. In the Turks and Caicos Islands, four out of nine islands have positive cases, with travel restrictions and limited gatherings. In The Bahamas, 15 islands have positive cases. The travel restrictions continue although there is no further lockdown.

The reality of the situation we face is that we are going to be dealing with this virus for a long time. We are going to have to learn to live with it safely and responsibly, until we reach the point where it is no longer a threat.

This means that now more than ever it is do or die – practice the protocols or face destruction. In fact, we are where we are now because some protocols were relaxed when they should not have been, and because many have not been observing the protocols at all. If we are going to live and not die then it will take all of us. Do not ignore the virus. Do not play down the seriousness of the virus. Do not take this thing for a joke. Do not say that it will not happen to me and my family.

Some of us, because we do not have a loved one who is COVID positive or ill, pay little attention to it. But all of us must enforce the safety that will save all of us. If more people, in more places, practice more of the protocols, more of the time – that is what will limit the spread more and more. So:

– Wear a mask,

– Social distance,

– Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, or sanitize hands with hand sanitizer that has at least 70 percent alcohol content,

– Stay in if you do not have to go out,

– Stay in if you have any cold or flu-like symptoms,

– Seek to build up your immune system,

– Do not smoke,

– Get adequate rest,

– Exercise regularly,

– Take vitamin C, B6 and E,

– Eat more whole plant foods: fruit vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes,

– Manage stress.

As we consider boosting the immune system we have to look at the general health of our people.

Too many of us have comorbidities, i.e., additional medical conditions which put us at higher risk than normal. Non-communicable diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis are too prevalent among us. Even more deadly than that is obesity, which throws the body’s whole system off. It is estimated that 45 percent to 50 percent of our people are obese or overweight to some degree. And too many of our young people are obese. As we seek to deal with COVID now and for the long term, these issues must be considered and addressed by all of us in our own lives and in our own families. Every one of us must face it. If we do not deal with it now, it will deal with us later – like all of these conditions are presently complicating our fight against COVID-19 now.

One thing that we have to acknowledge is that the curfews, the lockdowns, the disruption to our regular routine, and the financial impact all have increased our stress levels. Some of us are ready to crumble. To you I say, “Hold on!”

How you feel is normal for human beings in trying times, so there is nothing wrong with you. Often in life we face things that we are not prepared for, or which we feel we cannot cope with, or which overwhelm us. It is not a curse or a punishment: it is just life. So:

– Admit that you are struggling,

– Talk to someone in your family or neighborhood or school or job,

– Talk to a friend,

– Reach out to a priest, pastor or local leader,

– Call any of the various hotlines or assistance numbers,

– Reach out to your God in prayer and through Bible reading and by sharing with other people of faith.

In fact, all of us need to be praying more, and communing with our God more, and putting our personal relationship with God into practice more – All of us. The songwriter wrote, “If you never needed the Lord before, you sure do need him now!”

You are not weak or a failure because you feel like you cannot cope or if you feel overwhelmed. You are just human going through a pandemic that the world has never seen before in our lifetime. Hold on and press on!

My friends, let us be positive. Too many of us are negative-thinking and are saying the worst things; and we even spread same, encouraging others to join in this gloom and doom view. But remember that the more negative we are, the more we spread gloom and the harder it is for us to see the sunshine behind the cloud.

I beg you to encourage someone today. Be there for someone. Don’t make fun of them because they are struggling. We all struggle. Be sympathetic and help them. You may just save them from destruction. Sometimes the greatest test in our day is being able to bless someone else while we are going through our own storm. So reach out to someone today, in spite of how you may be feeling.

When we pray, let’s remember those who are COVID positive and their families. Let’s remind them that to be ill is not a curse or a punishment – it is just how the human body is…how life is… it happens.

Pray too for the national and local leaders in The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. They carry a tremendous load. Lift them up in prayer and with a kind word.

Pray for medical, law enforcement, public service and care-giving personnel. Pray for them because they are on the front line, and they are under tremendous pressure. Pray for every citizen and resident, for those in your neighborhood and family and pray for yourself.

Am I including everyone in my list? Yes I am because the only way that we can beat this virus is if we all work together, and if we all comply, and if we all pray for each other.

Come on now. Let’s buckle down. Let’s do this, for God, country and ourselves.

Amen! Amen! Amen!

— Reverend Laish Boyd is the bishop of the Diocese of The Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands.

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