It’s taking people time to really face into the reality of this pandemic. For all of us, old or young, an event such as this has never happened in our lifetime or even in the collective distant memory of our lifetime. Yes, sure there was the Spanish Influenza in 1918 that may have killed more than 50 million lives and yet even that event was not deeply in our awareness. It’s only now that I and many others are tuning into that terrifying event that got lost in the annals of history superseded by World War 1.
As I started to say, it’s taking people time to let in this new and frightening reality and for some, it’s still not really hitting. Amazing, no? But sadly true.
At first there was the sense of it happening over there, in China, in Iran, in Italy, but not here. Somehow one can still think it’s not really going to hit our shores even though we are so interconnected. Deadly viruses such as this one are not constricted by boundaries, political preferences or religious affiliations and, as I have learned, these viruses, transmitted from animal to human and then human to human, only crave more hosts in order to live and thrive.
Since the virus infiltrated our shores, for many it’s hard to take in how big this is. For some it’s the suspicion of facts, of science, of government, the bipartisan divide, perhaps even the rebellion against being told what to do. Or maybe it is not wanting to make the sacrifice of changing one’s life while still not being convinced of how virulent this virus is. It could even be a kind of magical thinking: “It won’t happen to me or even if it does, I will survive.”
For myself and many others, I have taken in how serious this pandemic is and am taking all the precautions to not infect others or get infected myself, and still at times I am struck by OMG, this is an enormous, unheard of event. There is so much suffering, so many deaths already in addition to so much darkness that lurks unseen yet to erupt in the future.
I can’t help thinking of the similarity this pandemic is to our on-going crisis with climate change that is going on at the same time as the virus pandemic but has not been at the forefront of consciousness now that this more immediate crisis is happening. And yet it is as much a crisis if not more than the pandemic.
How strange we humans are!
Like this novel virus and like climate change, so much is going on unseen or invisible. Yes, we are seeing a lot for sure, but there are so many unseen things happening below the surface or below our vision. And in spite of so much that is unseen, the truth is we can have a good idea of what is going to happen in the future based on science, on the laws of nature, on our understanding of how things work and have worked. So much can be predicted if we are willing to open our eyes and heart. And then of course there are always unknown factors, the x factor: for example, will we discover a vaccine in time to avert major deaths, will we invent or discover a way to take carbon emissions out of the atmosphere in time to avert more disaster? But in either case, we do know that disasters are happening and will continue to happen.
As we learn more about what is happening worldwide with the coronavirus, it does lift one’s heart to see how humanity is pulling together No, it’s not perfect, but in spite of how separate and divided we have been, within our country and in our world, and in the midst of tremendous fear, suffering and unbearable losses, something else is emerging. Our normal habitual way of being and interacting have broken down. Our economy, our social gatherings, our businesses, our personal lives have radically changed. There is so much uncertainty about the future. And out of it all, something else is emerging.
The simplest term I could use is care. It’s care on many levels. On a very simple level, people are reaching out near and far to friends and family in a way that may not have happened before. People are stepping up to this moment – offering and finding creative ways to help, donating money and time, offering free classes online, expressing joy and beauty through singing, music and art and even saying hello from a distance to strangers.
On a larger level, our care and concern for countries across the globe is opening our hearts: how can we help, what can we do? It’s a worldwide crisis. We can no longer fool ourselves about how interconnected we are and how much we need each other.
While I and many others take heart in this care that is happening, I do hope and pray that this emergence will carry over to our planet, our animals, our air, our environment, our way of being and living, in a radical way that has not happened before. That is my hope and prayer.