It’s a Small World After All

Coronavirus in a world of hope and fears

There’s so much that we share
That it’s time we’re aware
It’s a small world after all

Days after my recent trip to Disney World, I catch myself humming the words. I can not escape the lyrics’ brilliant simplicity as the song takes on new meaning during the Covid-19 attack. We are all connected in this small, small world.

My family and I were at Disney World days before the parks closed down due to the pandemic. Disney World is a magical place where we all instantly transform into kids again. I am not sure why it happens. Maybe the inner child living in all of us just needs a safe place to come out.

My daughters excitingly bounced meeting Princess Jazmine and Princess Belle. My teenage son boasted about Space Mountain, but I saw his smiling face loving every second of Peter Pan’s flight.

My wife and I screamed our way down the Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, and I am still am in awe of Pirates of the Caribbean. I enjoyed it as much at 47 as I did when I first saw it at age seven.

The long lines and the crowds were an afterthought as our family gazed up at the fireworks over Cinderella’s castle.

We were together in the happiest place on Earth.

And then the phone rang.

News alerts and Twitter notifications

Coronavirus was quickly escalating. By midday, reports circulated the parks might be closing. By the end of the day, the reports were clear. Disney would shut down. When we left our house, Coronavirus was a potential problem. The crisis was evolving but not yet at full force.

We debated aborting our family spring break trip, but the apocalypse was still theoretical. Honestly, I was not sure which was worse, going to Disney during a potential pandemic or seeing my kids’ faces when I told them our vacation was canceled.

I chose Disney.

Texts from friends and family

My phone was blowing up. Friends and family were checking to make sure we had heard the news. While waiting in lines, I checked my social media feeds. #Coronavirus was trending. All the major channels were reporting new cases of Covid-19. Despite the evolving news crisis, all I saw were happy families peacefully enjoying the magic.

It’s a small world

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

No trip to Disney is complete without riding It’s a Small World. Our family climbed into our boat for a journey around the world. During our ten minute ride, animatronic children sing the classic anthem as we traveled across the seven continents.

We all know the words. It is impossible not to sing along.

I have heard the lyrics a thousand times, but on this trip I understood them.

The song is so prescient during this time of the Coronavirus.

It’s a world of laughter
A world of tears

We are living in a world of laughter and a world of tears. Most of us are fortunate enough to enjoy our lives. We have family and resources. We have a roof over our heads and food to eat. At the same time, Covid-19 has turned Italy into a world of tears. The death toll is rising. The health system is overwhelmed. Front line healthcare workers are getting sick, limiting the availability to care for others.

It’s a world of hopes
And a world of fears

Planet Earth will overcome the challenges of this pandemic, but our friends and neighbors are looting hand sanitizer and toilet papers. I am a physician. I am amazed at the courage of my colleagues. My doctor and nurse friends are ready to fight, but they are concerned about the lack of medical equipment and N-95 masks. We don’t understand the lack of Covid-19 testing. We scramble to know what to do due to disjointed guidance from government health agencies.

I am ready to serve on the front lines. This is my job and my calling.

But I am afraid for myself and my family.

There’s so much that we share
That it’s time we’re aware
It’s a small world after all

The internet and social media connect us to the world in previously unimaginable ways. We have access to the horrific news from the UK, Ireland and other countries. At the same time, scientists from around the world are sharing information allowing us to study the virus at an exponential rate. Doctors around the world are sharing real-time discoveries and management options.

China has closed down its last coronavirus hospital due to a lack of new cases. Dutch researchers at the Erasmus Medical Center claim to have found an antibody against coronavirus. ⁣Dr. Helen Cho’s Seattle Flu Study provided crucial information to the spread of Covid-19 in the US.

Tech giants came together to create a Covid-19 triage algorithm. Scientists sequenced the virus in record time, and a vaccine phase 1 clinical trial is already in progress. Epidemiologists from the CDC share data with colleagues around the world. Physicians share clinical experience in real-time on newly formed Facebook groups.

We are sharing in this small, small world.

Yet, fear and panic fill our social media feeds. Click-bait headlines take us to untrustworthy news sites. We see friends not taking the recommendations seriously. Some share false and inaccurate information. Others do not know what to do. A lack of reliable information feeds worldwide anxiety.

Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

Stop and listen to the words of the song

There is just one moon and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship to everyone

The pandemic is an opportunity for humanity to come together. We must show the best of ourselves. Wash your hands. Cover your cough. Practice social distancing. Avoid the ER and Urgent care centers unless critically ill. Help protect the health care providers. We need them to stay healthy.

Check on your neighbors and family via text, email or Facetime. Make sure everyone has their basic needs covered. Ask how you can help.

Post helpful information on social media. Avoid sharing inflammatory, fear-mongering content.

Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It’s a small world after all

We are living in a time of unity. The virus is an opportunity to come together. Do not give it the power to divide us. Let’s usher in a global response of kindness and compassion.

We are one.

We are humans.

We are all riding in our small boat traveling around the world as children sing “It’s a small world after all. It’s a small, small world.”

Thank you to Candour for publishing this article on Medium.

Blog Author: Dr. Jeff Livingston 

Blog Photo By: Ester Marie Doysabas on Unsplash