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Op-ed Placement

In Times of Crisis, America Always Rises to the Challenge

Originally Published in The Washington Examiner on 3/23/20.

America is no stranger to catastrophe. Together, we have persisted through the Civil War, the Spanish flu, the Great Depression, two world wars, the Sept. 11 attacks, and the 2008 financial crisis, to name a few.

With each event, the circumstances were different. The quality of technology and healthcare treatment available were different. The ability to communicate with other people and receive important information was different. But there was a common thread linking each event, a force that propelled society forward in each of these historical moments of resilience — our greatness of spirit.

When times get hard, we step up.

Not all of us — there will always be the immature teenager licking airplane toilet seats during a global pandemic. But for the most part, when faced with tragedy or hardship, Americans do the right thing. We set differences aside, build each other up, and look for ways to help the community rise.

People have already begun to act locally to flatten the curve and help neighbors make ends meet during this difficult time. Grocery stores are opening up special hours for senior citizens to shop safely, and younger people are dropping groceries off outside the front doors of people with disabilities and older people who cannot leave the house.

Teachers are giving virtual tutoring while children are home from school. Churches are streaming their worship services online. People are buying gift cards to their favorite restaurants and circulating Venmo and GoFundMe accounts for local bartenders, waitstaff, food trucks, retail owners and employees, and other valuable members of the local business community to help float them through the next few months while they cannot work.

Perhaps most importantly, young and healthy people are finally beginning to stay home and practice “social distancing” to prevent the spread of the virus to older people and those with preexisting conditions.

The federal government has a critical role to play in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic — but the most helpful measures to flatten the curve and save the economy must be taken locally, by ordinary people such as you and me.

In the digital age, social distancing does not have to mean social isolation. There are plenty of things you can do from home to promote civil society and be a good neighbor to those who will be hit the hardest over the next few months.

FreedomWorks has created the Love America pledge for citizens to take in good faith to crowd-source our best ideas for socially distanced volunteerism. It begins with signing a pledge to:

Look out for neighbors, check in regularly, and assist when possible. Support small and local businesses through takeout or delivery services, and help the companies that are the backbone of our community. Be a force for good on social media, posting encouraging words and accurate news. Do our part to flatten the curve by staying home and social distancing. We pledge to do these things and more because we love our country. In doing so, we will support the physical, mental, and spiritual health of our family and friends, and the community at large.

We are asking our millions-strong network of volunteer activists to be leaders in their communities by taking the pledge and document their efforts by creating videos and posting pictures on social media of how they are helping their fellow people.

Whether it’s writing an encouraging note on the sidewalk, donating to a local food bank, calling and checking in on family and neighbors, or supporting local restaurants and businesses, it's the small things we normally take for granted that will ultimately propel our country forward into yet another historical moment of resilience.

I have no doubt that together, with America’s greatness of spirit at work in neighborhoods everywhere, this shall be our finest hour.

Extraordinary things happen when individuals, through voluntary action, work together to make society better. This is no time to feel helpless. We are in this together. If you love your country and are looking for ways to help, join us.