As I barrel down, one Groundhog Day after the next, toward the one-and-only fiftieth birthday my current incarnation will ever know (and likely ever claim), I am reminded again and again of my responsibility to others, here on Lonely, Crowded Planet Dirt. I mean Earth. Same thing. (Weird and appropriate name for a planet, though Planet Rock would have sounded more awesome).
I have the mortal responsibility of being a good mortal while here. As a recent returnee to the camp of the God-Fearing/God-Loving, I am [super]naturally concerned with what God Wants. I even have a book on the read right now, called Knowing God’s Will. I assumed – perhaps somewhat recursively, or else prophetically, or else self-fulfillingly – that God willed me to read the book. We can only only speculate now, can’t we?
Not wanting to disrespect the atheists in the audience – who are as far as I can tell no less valuable to and loved by God (the One I pray to, in any case) – I expect we all have as much mortal responsibility as one another, regardless of our current faiths or fortunes. We are all One in the Body, so to speak.
How to mine our current situation for meaning? This is something God enjoys watching us do, I believe. I know I would. We have been more than a bit off track in how we go about tending the garden. We haven’t been getting along very well. We are worshipping money and Things and squandering our time, as a collective. By now we could have been feeding and clothing and sheltering the most vulnerable and disadvantaged among us – making them less so, and then, by extension, all of us so, so much more – but instead we hoard, and we scramble, and we worry for our own, not thinking that we are all our own.
I do this sort of selfish thing every single day. This morning, for example, I got out of bed early enough – imagining I would console myself with not having slept in by going instead to get my morning coffee, as I most always do.
Surely the morning coffee run is still permissible. I have plastic money that works without having to touch anything (tap is a misnomer – these things don’t even need to touch). There is no need to hand anyone my suddenly-very-suspiciously-dirty money. I could take a quick run out and I’d be back with my disposable cup of caffeine in a jiffy. [New Brunswick does not recycle very well, even in 2020 – the plastic lid will end up in a landfill somewhere just beyond my vision]
Then I saw that book again: Knowing God’s Will, waiting on the dresser for our next reading adventure together. What secrets might yet remain to be found therein? What would I read, and what would I hear? What was the title telling me all on its own, for that matter?
Well, dammit. I suppose I could make coffee in the coffee maker, and have a seat in the house I’m already in, and find a cozy corner from the several I am blessed with being able to choose between, and drink my morning medicine and have my say on the Internet – that public place we can still all meet. My fellow Humans don’t need me driving about today looking to exchange droplets. I owe them that much. I can manage. I will probably cave tomorrow anyhow [I did], so why not be strong when I can?
Viruses online are of a different sort entirely; they might claim my laptop if they are digital, and they might claim my time if they are socially viral enough, and they might claim my imagination, if they are opinions with enough potential – but they will not claim the health of my family, my friends, or myself. And this is something to consider. We are at least together in our safer, online alone-ness.
I watched our Prime Minister deliver an update to the Canadian Folk from his temporary front stoop, in the face of some cameras and reporters (now keeping a new and decent distance). He even took one or two phone-ins. His wife has been diagnosed with COVID-19. A bad flu – I’m quite certain she will pull through just fine, and is being sensibly sensitive in not coughing it all over the rest of us. Thank you, Sophie – get well soon.
The new story we’re being told is now already predictable: This thing will go on longer than we were telling you all just last week, so hunker down and get used to it. Don’t go out unless you absolutely have to. And maybe start helping each other more.
That’s what the medical professionals hired by my government are telling my government to tell me (according to them). This is on TV, so of course it has to be true. What else can we, in any case, do? What would you?
Whether you believe in a God that wants you to step up, or you believe in no-God (and must therefore assume it is completely on you to step up on your own, aided only by the God-full and God-less Humans around you), it should be apparent that we all have some work to do. Not the same old work we were doing last month, or even last week. We have a new assignment. It is not all laid out in perfect detail, of course. If it were, where would our free will go to do its thing, to then prove itself and its own worth?
We are meant to figure some things out on our own, and some things with friends and family and neighbours, and some other things with our wider community, and then some things within nations (until the day nations themselves decide not to be needed), and then of course some things with our widest community yet – that community given Life and Chance on the burgeoning, billowing Internet.
These are just some of our spheres and tricks. The virus and its kin know nothing of us, but that we are a good host of hosts. They are able to thrive upon us, for a time, provided we stick around and keep sneezing on each other and picking our noses and scratching our eyeballs. They wish to live as we do, in some sense: compelled by a need to consume and reproduce and spread. For the sake of those things alone. This sounds familiar enough. We are not so different, this Corona and I.
Planet Earth is the Struggling Place – if you’re not trying to eat something, you’re trying to get eaten. It’s nothing personal, it just seems to be woven into the nature of things. And so I hold no grudge against any given COVID-19 folk, I am just allied to the Human folk first, followed very closely by the animal folk and the plant folk. Don’t ask me why I stack my allegiances and priorities so – I guess I like being near the top of some food chain that I can see, and then considering how to give those below me a real pass, and a license to live and to thrive. I would hope for the same, if the roles were reversed.
COVID-19 will grant us no such grace, given a choice. The Virus has a much simpler mind. It does not consider abstractions like responsibility and kindness and the true potential of its young; its responsibility is hard-wired and wholly selfish.
We can behave differently than a virus, thankfully. We have a unique set of properties as Humans which make us both incredibly dangerous (the Bad News) and also chock-full of potential (the Good News). We are especially full of potential in groups – and especially especially when armed with things like Internets, Ideas, and Better Ideals.
If I were a proper researcher/journalist, I would have drafted this post a week ago already, and filled it full with links to articles about innovation in the face of adversity, to set the Dear Reader off on a learning adventure (since many of us have more time indoors now), but instead I just gave that one link, and now I say: have at it, and tell me what you see.
Problems appear to us for the very facing of them. I believe without surprise problems we would just sit around a whole lot, getting busy not-evolving. What kind of lumps would we all look like by now, without our litany of past problems? Would we just be shambling about from one sunny patch here to another shady place there, vaguely wondering in those few moments on the move what it was all for? What virus would have already gotten us, in fact, without our systems being under a constant state of mild attack?
Our individual, personal evolution depends on identifying what we’re each here for; using books or religion or science or contemplation or discussion or experimentation or observation or whatever we need to employ, whenever we’re unsure of who or what might need us, and why.
Our collective evolution involves us first understanding that we are a collective. That is, there is a Body called Human, and that body depends very much upon a beautiful, giving host who cannot bear our rampant growth and greed forever. The virus that is us needs to use all of the tools in its chest to become a far better symbiot – one that won’t beg to be rejected, but welcomed for its great gifts and potential.