When we Americans look back on 2020, a defining moment will be the Covid-19 Pandemic. An equally defining moment will be the Nov 3 elections for the Presidency and Senate. In this piece, I will share some thoughts on the Pandemic.
Let me upfront acknowledge the immensity of lives lost, the inconsolable grief left behind and the shadows of uncertain futures ahead for families who have lost a breadwinner, a pillar of their hopes. These shattered lives will have meaning when we painfully self-examine the failures and establish readiness systems and measures to contain and best such pandemics.
The Pandemic is an event that I will label the Great Un-Covering.
Firstly, it un-covered our inner selves to ourselves. To what extent is my life dependent on externals, be it retail therapy, entertainment, travel, socialization, etc? To what extent can I not just only survive, but thrive, as I patiently wait in isolation? What does it imply if I cannot manage self-isolation? To what extent has this Pandemic revealed what gives me most meaning in life? How can my post-Pandemic life be qualitatively better? Such questions, by growing deep roots, gives us the contemplative nourishment needed for a towering life. But if such questions are batted away, perhaps, it has un-covered that our outer self is all we have to fritter away to the end.
The Pandemic un-covered many around us, in society, in friendship circles, in various leadership roles, etc. Like the poles of a magnet, it either attracts or repels us. And both situations are telling. This public un-covering is akin to the adage, “I cannot un-see what I have seen.” While there’s anguish at what one perceived, the un-covering is a blessing. One’s eyes have been truly opened, and all have been un-masked (pun intended).
The Pandemic un-covered that while we have technologies and conveniences that far surpass olden days, our base human nature has not evolved as much. It’s very much a survival of the fittest, the fastest man to the life rafts. In the early panic days, wealth fled on private yachts, some fled to luxurious enclaves in remote islands, etc. Those who could not afford to stop working, were exposed to high risk situations, ala meat processing workers. It would seem that as a human race civilization, we should move to a maturity (evolution?) classification that’s no longer based on GDP per capita, but on “well being” per capita. It has been said that one can tell a society by how it treats its poor, marginalized, defenseless.
The Pandemic un-covered across America, that we Americans, have ‘significant’ values that are the anti-thesis of each other. It is no longer a difference of ideologies and policies. Right now, it’s a battle of which side comes up on top via the election process. In the golden age of Greek philosophers, this would have been debated and deliberated. If the latter approach had been adopted, one can foresee a sieving of values, until the final core value choices are placed, side by side. Thus, freedom of expression, rights to worship, etc. are all sieved away until two core choices remain. Love of Self vs Love of Neighbor. As Scripture puts it, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” By the way, that same Scripture covers self-love.
And thus, my pondering comes to a conclusion. Every cloud has a silver lining. What’s the silver lining for you in this Great Un-covering?