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In Alice in Wonderland, just before Alice meets Tweedledum and Tweedledee, she enters the wood-of-no-names and meets a fawn. They walk together, “Alice with her arms wrapped lovingly around the fawn,” until they come to the edge of the wood.

There, the fawn suddenly remembers its name and looks at Alice with horror. “I’m a fawn!” it cries out, “and, dear me! You’re a human child!” Terrified, it runs away.

We’re in a dark wood today, but we’re all in it together. Maybe this is a chance for us to try to see ourselves and others a little differently—beyond names or name-calling, beyond labels. Just human beings.

Government officials, healthcare workers, sanitation workers, bus drivers, the old, the young, the right, the left, male and female, rich and poor, all nationalities—just human beings.

We often hear today, “We’re all in this together.” I think there’s wisdom in that.

So, what’s at stake right now? Maybe this: the choice to either close down or open up. The choice to go through this in a way that shrinks our humanity—or expands it.

When we’ve received such a big hurt, it can be tempting to close down. To hunker down in fear and/or anger, to try to find someone or something to blame, or to simply hide and postpone living until it’s over.

But if we do, does our humanity shrink?

Or we can open up (as so many are doing). We can embrace our fears and pain, look trouble in the eye, join together and reach out to do what we can. We can keep living and laughing and loving and, yes, weeping.

Opening up can help us overcome—rather than be overcome. It is a way to go through this that can deepen and enrich and expand our humanity.

No, it’s not easy. (This is one of the toughest times in American history.) But it’s important to think about.

Because you are needed where you are. Your humanity is needed, your joy and humor, your compassion and empathy, your courage and aliveness, and your genuine presence.