This blog features reflections on current affairs through the lens of my Quaker faith and practice and offers not only analysis but a perspective on hope, renewal, and reconciliation - a “lift”, as I call it - during these stressful, chaotic times.
I hope that you will use the Comments feature to participate with me and with each other. I believe it will be enriching to us all.
I am resisting writing about the pandemic yet again this evening - and you are undoubtedly tiring of reading about it. But here goes another foray into what it means to be immersed now two months along into our "long night’s journey into day,” as the history of apartheid in South Africa declared.
By now the creative challenge of developing innovative sets of routines seems to be largely accomplished to the point of becoming - well - routine. It seems like I just brushed my teeth a few minutes ago; I go to the mailbox and read the paper every morning more or less on schedule at 9; then there’s emails; followed by a walk; and lunch pretty much on time at 12:30. So goes the days, and somehow they seem to pass all too quickly. Where was that anticipated time to read and work on my long-neglected project? Instead, I’d rather do the crossword puzzle or maybe take a nap. You get the idea. We need more than ever the discipline of regularity and predictability in this irregular and unpredictable stretch of our lives.
There also seem to be a good number of welcome surprises and opportunities with the realignment of our lives. As I noted last week, Zoom reconnecting over the years and miles with old friends has been particularly satisfying. And who knew that our grandson or granddaughter was such a creative and capable writer, so well read, and so good at math until I have spent now hours with them in close conversations tutoring and chatting on Zoom. What a joy it is to have the time to plan a whole new garden, clean out the garage and closets, and reminisce going through all those old photographs. You undoubtedly have your own serendipitous delights appearing out of the otherwise predictable stay-at-home regimens of our lives.
Relatively speaking, however, only being a bit bored is the good news for many of us who are privileged enough to enjoy the virtue of patience and the ability as a retiree to stay at home without a job and still pay our bills. Like others with these privileges, I often reference the contrast of my relative security while I also acknowledge the widespread medical and economic suffering experienced by so many others. I am deeply concerned, of course, about those who are apparently desperate and fearful enough to flaunt arms in protest and to demand lifting the medical imperative to stay at home that governments struggle to impose.
And are we creating a new consciousness that accounts for the fact that every single human being on earth is bound with everyone else because we are all exposed to the possibility of Covid’s severe illness and death at some level? Trying to take in the courage and heroics of the medical and service workers across the world is equally mind boggling in terms of deep compassion and solidarity.
As we cautiously begin to transition to more freedom of movement and association, I dearly pray that the majority of us respect the medical advice, the welfare of ourself and others, and the sacrifices and risks of those in the medical and service professions. None of us likes to be told so firmly what we can or cannot do, but each of us needs to model, and insist where possible, that the distancing requirements so clearly recommended are followed if we are to eventually quell the Covid epidemic.
Yes, we’ve heard this all before. But as we adapt to our new realities, perhaps we need to keep reminding ourselves that we are learning new moral and social behaviors of cooperation and respect for the power of life and death, perhaps beyond the virus itself, that will provide greater understanding and commitment necessary to allow us to sustain our planet