Tom Hanks' Take on Coronavirus Just Might Help Us All

Gregory A. Hood, MD


March 17, 2020

In his initial public comments, Hanks said, "There are things we can all do to get through this by following the advice of experts and taking care of ourselves and each other, no?"

Society responds to each crisis or epidemic with the tools and understanding that it possesses at that time. (Much like how the character Forrest Gump dealt with each obstacle in his way.)

Perhaps, in some ways, we've never been in a better position to handle an epidemic of this sort. When people need to remain fed, healthy, and entertained, we have internet-based home delivery of food, medicines, and sometimes toilet paper. Although Joe Versus the Volcano might not be everyone's cup of tea, there are plenty of other Hanks films one can stream so as not to go stir crazy while waiting out confinement.

Can People Connect to One Another?

The weakness of our society today in its profundity of isolation and loneliness, before COVID-19, is very likely to be exposed now in unseemly ways. Perhaps Hanks can use his social media platform and public persona to influence everyone to take a step back from the anxiety, paranoia, and fear that they are feeling in 2020 and make this a year in which we practice 20/20 vision—to see each other, to connect, and to overcome. That would make quite a "splash."

On Instagram, Hanks made reference to one of his most famous lines from the film A League of Their Own: "Remember, despite all the current events, there is no crying in baseball." There is, however, crying in loneliness, and we as a society, a profession, and a people can do better to relieve this.

Like Hanks said when portraying Mister Rogers, "Anything mentionable can be more manageable." We just have to be in positions to hear each other. If we don't, then the picture won't be pretty.

Many terrible things will probably come out of this COVID-19 pandemic. While we're each doing what we can to stay safe and keep others safe, it's useful to recall Hanks' words and to remember that this is a fight that asks all of us to take care of not only ourselves, but each other.

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