Last week, I sat in my pharmacy, waiting to be brought one of the last of my asthma preventers in the whole of Newtown. I had been informed that not only was my preventer now out of stock, so was my reliever (Ventolin) and my epi-pens. Three of my daily necessities.
“Where’d all of it go?” I asked, knowing what the answer would be. People had been bulk-buying in the fears of a lockdown, and there was now a national Ventolin shortage. A fact that, frankly, terrified me.
“I was keeping the last Ventolin for my daughter’s asthma,” the pharmacist told me. “But a woman came in with a kid, and he could barely breathe. I had to give it up.”
A week later, it’s not my own worry that sticks with me, but this conversation with my pharmacist.
Although COVID-19 has shown an ugly side to human fear, it has also left me feeling more hopeful about humanity than ever. I have seen tattoo artists donating their gloves and masks to hospitals, street libraries turning into repositories of free food and resources, and stores opening up early for elderly people to safely shop.
My pharmacist’s sacrifice is a small one in the grand scale of things. But it does remind me of how I once heard choices like this described:
“An act ‘horribilis’ is responded to with acts of ‘mirabilis’ – acts of wonder.”
Or as the apostle Paul puts it, more starkly: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”