A young woman in a TV news report was explaining very nicely that if her child wanted to wear a mask as school he could. If he did not want to wear a mask at school, he did not have to. My immediate thought was, and if he wanted to play with a loaded gun, would that be all right? If he wanted to stick his hand on a hot burner, would that be all right? Are we getting so tired of the pandemic that we have just given up?

Have you heard the story of the Choluteca Bridge in Honduras?

It is a beautiful bridge, built in 1998 and engineered to withstand hurricanes. Just after it opened, it got tested. Hurricane Mitch hit Honduras killing 11,000 people. The bridge stood firm.

There was one tiny problem. The hurricane rerouted the river, covered the roads and left the bridge standing on a solid patch of land. Nothing led to it; nothing led away. The Choluteca Bridge is a good lesson for this COVID pandemic.

We cannot stop building bridges. We cannot stop trying to make the bridges we build withstand everything we know that could happen. We said 2020 was a disaster, and then we said 2021 was a disaster. We are only 44 days into 2022 and barely holding on to hope that things will get better soon. There are 321 days left in 2022. What can we do in 100 days? Or 200 days? Or 321 days? Yes, we could end up with a bridge to nowhere. If we just waste those coming days arguing over whether to wear a mask, get vaccinated, spread lies or misinformation, we will end up with no bridge definitely leading to nowhere.

We are in this for the long haul; let’s be compassionate with each other.

Listen to the Carpenters:

Bless the beasts and the children
For in this world they have no voice
They have no choice
Bless the beasts and the children
For the world can never be
The world they see
Light their way when the darkness surrounds them
And give them love, let it shine all around them
Give them shelter from the storm
Keep them safe, keep them warm

J. Patrick Murphy, C.M., Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Public Service at DePaul University and Values Director for Depaul International, an organization that serves homeless people in seven countries.