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.
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One of the major impacts of the Covid era is that it has clouded our vision, our ability to see ahead, to plan. It is difficult enough to walk an unfamiliar, obscured path when you are reasonably able to see where you are going. Most of us have experienced driving in the fog or in a whiteout snowstorm. The uncertainty and anxiety of such vulnerability is palpable. But in those circumstances we usually have a designated destination, so we tolerate the stress knowing if we just slow down, or even wait to proceed, we’ll eventually get there.
The Covid related uncertainty is a little different. We not only have difficulty keeping our eyes on the uncertain and vague way in front of us, the Delta surge seems like we are now adrift in a much more vast sea of questions about where we are headed and when and how we will ever get there. Will we ever be free from the Covid type pandemics and the resented restrictions they pose on most every daily decision? Combined with the open-ended threat from climate change, it is often difficult to get our bearings and know how to proceed toward a hopeful future.
The prudent thing to do in the midst of precarious uncertainly is to simply slow down or, better yet, pause and wait until we find our bearings. That is exactly what Gandhi did as he waited months in seclusion before his inspiration of the great salt march that became the turning point in the Indian liberation movement. And I think many of us who can are doing just that - withdrawing quietly, albeit reluctantly, into another season of lockdown and isolation as we wait to see what our next steps might be.
But the rest of the world continues to swirl willy-nilly around us: children are cautiously going to school, people are busily shopping and eating in restaurants, attending church and going to sporting and theater events in spite of serious warnings about the potential consequences. Which leaves us all - everyone of us - thus threading a needle between forging ahead with our lives even if we are often not sure where we are going. And we do know at some level that we are endangering ourselves by exposing ourselves to those who may or may not be vaccinated or wearing a mask. We do what we can to protect ourselves, but it often feels like we are living in a mysterious harm’s way. There is both a weariness and wariness to it all.
So I have been asking myself how, in spite of all the confusion and discouragements, can I still retain a sense of hopeful moral vision. Even though I feel so overwhelmed with the vagaries and subtle dangers around me, what can I still realistically envision for the future? In response I find myself turning to the wisdom of the ancients who also faced what felt like “end times.” I am looking for a deep sense of vision that not only transcends contemporary crises, but offers a vision of transformed world where the “beloved community” of peace and justice prevail.
I cannot offer specifics, but my sense is that humankind will eventually conclude, as the mystics and many scientists believe, that we are so essentially deeply interconnected and interdependent that we will eventually recognize our intrinsic unity, perhaps out of a spiritual revelation, or sadly, perhaps by a shared calamity. I believe we are closer than we can yet know to embracing a reality of our unity that leads us to an ethic of cooperation motivated by some sort of mutual kindness and love. This vision is certainly not new. Among many others, it is Jesus preaching inclusiveness and love, even of our enemies. It is MLK setting his prepared notes aside to declare his dream, his vision, of a truly “united” states of equality and opportunity.
What is your vision during this foggy, obscured time? What do you wish for yourself, your friends, your family and grandchildren assuming, as we must do, that our planet’s healing and sanity will heal? Can you see beyond the current veil of uncertainty, despair and fear? How can you live now as if that vision has already become a reality?
Blessings and peace,
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