A few years ago, I experienced a total eclipse of the sun. I remember I looked out the window of my office building and saw the darkness increase while the light was diminished due to the movement of the planet. A solar eclipse occurs when a portion of the Earth is engulfed in a shadow cast by the Moon which fully or partially blocks sunlight. This occurs when the Sun, Moon and Earth are aligned. Such alignment coincides with a new moon indicating the Moon is closest to the ecliptic plane. Wikipedia.
For me that day, as for the rest of the world, there was darkness and it was brief and then there was a resurgence of light.
Currently we are experiencing a lot of darkness. The global pandemic of the Covid-19 virus has taken a lot of human lives, ended a lot of jobs and has created a great amount of economic distress. This has been recently described as a “medically induced coma “for the economy by David Wessel of the Hutchins Center at the Brookings Institute. (NPR broadcast 04/10/2020).
This current plague has generated, for some politicians, the tendency to couch decision making in terms of false dichotomies, i.e. protection of health versus a robust economy, advocating universal availability of testing and yet making no provision of testing resources.
Meanwhile, for a good number of people, worry and anxiety increases as we continue to practice social distancing, fear our masks and roam the empty aisles of supermarkets trying to forage meager leftovers of staples.
All of this can feel very dystopian, like waking up and finding yourself living in a horrible nightmare.
I’m wondering what it will be like after the darkness?
What will we have learned from this pandemic?
First, I hope we realize that we need to prioritize public health. This will mean increasing budgets, acquiring and stockpiling more resources, especially emergency medical gear (PPE, masks, gloves, ventilators etc.). We will need also to increase our continuing education and training i.e. mock drills regarding how to effectively and efficiently respond when a medical epidemic emerges.
We need to be ready should another occasion arise where a disease gets inadvertently transported on a flight from Beijing to Seattle.
There also must be humane and safe procedures regarding those who are infected with a virus without shutting down entire economies. I ‘m concerned that the aftermath with the current shutdown of our economy will be with us for quite a while. I hope I’m wrong.
Second, we need to strategize how we will protect vulnerable populations during a future medical emergency i.e. the poor, persons of color, the elderly, the disabled. We need to encourage houses of worship to collaborate with schools, government bodies etc. in order to make space available for triage and further medical care and observation. Whatever we can to do to diminish the impression, during a medical crisis, that the haves will be preserved while the have nots will perish, should be a major priority.
Third, and this may sound obvious, but we need to encourage, foster and model compassion in our interactions with one another during a medical crisis or pandemic. The gross example of gratuitous hoarding we have witnessed does not speak to any care or concern for humankind. Instead, the message is “I count, you don’t “.
If we want a charitable civilization, this kind of mentality will have to be greatly discouraged by community and world leaders.
After darkness there is usually the emergence of light. Right now, the light is taking longer to be revealed. Barbara Brown Taylor talked about becoming more comfortable learning how to walk in the dark.
You and I are continuing to walk in the dark, hopefully becoming more steady in our steps, more perceptive regarding what is around us, both of comfort and of danger.
After darkness there can be light, after death there can be new birth.
May this time of Easter, of new life be further revealed to all of us and to our world.
We desperately need it.
May it be so.