15 Pandemic Lessons
It’s been six months since we started lockdowns due to Covid-19 here in the United States. It’s also the nineteenth anniversary of another kind of attack on my country, one that has left deep scars. My fellow countrymen put aside their differences during the cruel and tragic events of September 11, 2001, coming together to heal and rebuild. We all hoped that the spirit of cooperativeness in the face of a shared enemy would unite us more closely than ever. It seemed to have done so for a time. But then we got lost again, forgetting the resolve that we had found in the rubble to look out for one another, neglecting the appreciation for the blessings that we have, which we discovered through our tears.
Now it’s 2020, and more families are dealing with tragedies as our country struggles to find direction and hope. Throughout this year, I’ve been gathering together some things that I’ve been learning from the pandemic and the last six months of dealing with it’s effects, which I’m sharing below. Will we really have gained lasting knowledge and virtue through this enormous difficulty? Or will our memory fade once again?
Perhaps our memory is already fading. Any watching of the news or scrolling through social media would say that it is. Take a breath with me and reflect upon fifteen basic truths, lessons, and discoveries made a couple of months ago. Try to remember that human history is full of trials — but human beings are full of hope.
First, the strangest discovery:
1.) The people that I know who are the most adamantly against mask-wearing are also adamantly pro-life. This seems so odd to me that I’m afraid I’m missing something. I hope that someone can give me the key to decipher this so that I can better understand and right any wrongs that may be in my thinking.
2.) The workers in our society whom we most often take for granted are, in fact, our most essential workers to whom we should show appreciation. (Grocery clerks, truck drivers, nurses aides, sanitation and utility workers, etc..)
3.) We all want to feel essential, to BE essential. When people feel useless because they cannot work in the community, it underscores the great tragedy of our world: far too many of us don’t know how divinely essential we are no matter what our individual capacities for production.
4.) “The kindness of strangers” is real, a very real and vital force within our communities and our lives.
5.) Sacrifice manifests love. In other words, true love is evidenced by the sacrifice that one is willing to make for the benefit of the other. (On a personal note, as someone who is highly vulnerable to Covid-19, this pandemic has deepened my loving gratitude for my self-giving parents.)
6.) Just being entertained is not enough for human fulfillment.
7.) No one wants to die alone.
8.) Governments can’t solve problems in a vacuum. In other words, change doesn’t occur unless the people who are governed truly want change, truly want problems to be solved and are willing to do the work themselves to make changes and resolve the problems.
9.) Bad things don’t go away just because new bad things are getting the headlines and social attention.
10.) There is totally such a thing as too much news. We humans are not meant to know everything about everything everywhere. We should not bury our heads in the sand, of course, but we should focus on verifiable information about events and situations in which we can be of good assistance. And then be of good assistance instead of merely watching events unfold.
11.) Social media is a powerful source of world-changing contagion. What’s usually spread through Facebook, (insert any other platform here), and especially Twitter, causes great sickness (like prejudice, pride, jealousy, greed, vanity, and destructive wrath.) Sadly, it seems that these mediums are less conducive for the spreading of grace, mercy, and divine love.
12.) No pandemic can ever change human nature or any cruelty that may lie in a human heart. A pandemic can, however, alter and undermine the kindness in human hearts through self-centered fear and false pride.
13.) Like it or not, we all affect one another and need each other. I’ve always known this because I am severely dependent upon others for survival, but human interconnectedness is more visibly present and “real” for all of us now. I hope.
The least surprising discoveries that aren’t new discoveries at all:
14.) Toilet paper is a great invention.
15.) Being outside is good.
What are some of the things that you’re learning from this pandemic? Share any thoughts in the comments below — nothing is either too deep or too silly! Real and genuine conversations are what we need to keep ourselves focused on what’s most important in life and to remain a nation of hope.
© 2020 Christina Chase
Feature Photo by visuals on Unsplash
Other Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash
Christina Chase View All
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.
The trouble with masks, as we see it, is that the face, the first organ of communication, is obscured. The smile that baby loves to see, to elicit and to radiate to nearest and dearest, is more primal than stringing sentences together; the smile is – masked. Rationally, masks are unnecessary outdoors at what we’ve learned to call a social distance from others; conversations in the street happen at 2m apart, which can cause difficulties on narrow pavements/sidewaiks in Canterbury. But a mask is always in a pocket ready to go indoors shopping or for Mass.
The Common Good suggests that, if the majority of people, or significant numbers, feel reassured when others are masked, I’d be hard pressed to refuse. It feels wrong in Church, but so does someone unprotected sneezing forcibly during Mass.
I’d have thought pro-life meant anti-infection and anti fear of infection, no?
It must be very difficult for babies and small children to figure out what a mask is! My parents have often worn masks when they are sick and caring for me, and our cats are always a little wary around them when they do. It certainly isn’t ideal for communication, and does mess with our natural face recognition “software”.
(Sorry! Hit send too soon!)
I thought that I would have difficulty telling whether people were smiling or not when they are wearing masks. Surprisingly, it isn’t difficult. Genuine smiles always show in the eyes. So, it’s only the fake smiles that go undetected. Undistracted by the mere upward curve of the mouth, we are drawn to the windows of the soul, which are unmasked by masks. I notice people’s eyes so much more now.
With my compromised respiratory system, I’ve been paying attention to viruses and how they spread for decades. I wouldn’t want anyone to wear a mask to make me “feel” safe. Masks aren’t magic, but they are proven, when worn correctly, to lessen the spread of viruses. 2 m (or 6 feet) is also not, of course, a magic distance at which viruses fall off. A cough, clearing of the throat, loud voice, singing, or just laughing expels more air from the respiratory system and might spread the coronavirus. There are, of course, a lot of “mights” when doing research on the spreading of the Covid 19 coronavirus. But doctors advise me to take precautions against a common chest cold, so I’m advised (as well as the people around me) to take an abundance of caution against this particular virus. The mask wearing, therefore, is not to make me feel safe, but to keep me safer, even if it’s just a little. Frequent handwashing (especially after coming home from the “outside world”) has always been part of my household’s daily routine. So at least that’s not hard!
Social distancing, including the avoidance of large gatherings, is a difficulty that all of us are struggling with, in one way or another, some more than others. Sadly, this is something we may need to deal with for some time. Let’s all pray for each other. (A little story about wearing a mask at Mass coming soon…)
Thank you for chatting with me! ❤ And all at a very safe distance LOL