How Do We Respond?

It feels like the whole world is running around in circles, hands in the air screaming “We’re all gonna die! We’re all gonna die!” As they clear the shelves of Costco and Walmart of every shred of toilet paper in response to a Respiratory virus, we Broadcasters are left with the question and/or dilemma…”How do we respond to this Crisis/Pandemic/Disaster?”


In 35 years of broadcasting, I’ve seen a lot. I have manned the studio during hurricanes slamming all around our city. I’ve literally been on air trying to make sense of the first World Trade Tower being hit as I watched the second one being plummeted.  I’ve used a chainsaw to clear trees from devastated towns ravaged by tornados. I’ve had a death grip on the handles of the car seats of my 6-month-old twin grandchildren following high water rescues through hip-deep rising flood waters.  Being in radio means experiencing crisis, and it always comes down to the same question…How do we respond?


When the towers came down in New York City, how in the world could we respond or help at ground zero, unless we lived right there in NYC? Our nation responded by flying flags from every post, pole and porch. Flags sold out in a matter of hours. We saw lines for blood donations wrapped around the buildings and donation buses, even though we knew that pint we just donated would not likely go to help anyone at the World trade Center. Seats in places of worship were filled, and we saw neighbors becoming neighborly. Strangers found themselves looking, truly looking into the face of one another and speaking. None of these things actually changed the crisis that had begun on that beautiful blue-sky morning, but we all wanted to help because we felt helpless. They may not have changed the crisis of the towers, but they changed us…they made us feel like we had a say in the face of this crisis.


We can’t change or cure this crisis either…but, I guarantee you, those listening to you, browsing your Facebook posts or checking your Instagram, are people feeling helpless in this crisis with a desire to help. They want to do something, and when someone on television suggested you should stock up on toilet paper – they cleared the shelves!  It’s a respiratory virus! But the one thing that they were told to do, they did it.


So, let’s give them something they can do…let’s find those ways to serve instead serving up more fears! Help them think of ways to reach out in love without breaking the hand sanitizer barrier.


What about getting a (small) group of friends to carol outside the open windows at a retirement home because no one can visit. Maybe it’s going to a park and sanitizing the playground equipment. Perhaps it’s calling older people from the church whose only fellowship would have been the service that was canceled.  Get your listeners and followers to help think of the ways that we can all respond to the crisis in service instead of allowing ourselves to think we are victims.


I have been in some very traumatic situations in my life and one thing I learned is that if I allowed myself or my listeners to concentrate on the trauma’s impact on us…we all felt helpless. When I made certain that my listeners and I found ways to serve, we all felt stronger. I took power back from the crisis that had stripped me of it. Your listeners, your family, your followers and your own heart do not want to cower in a crisis….reinforce that God is still in control.  Remind everyone that we can do something to help….it won’t cure the virus but it will heal the spreading of fear.

Susan O’Donnell

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