- APRIL 11, 2020 -
Striking news of the day: Just heard that 16,000,000 people have lost their jobs in 3 weeks. 10,000,000 lost their jobs during the entire Great Depression. “Unemployment rose higher in three months of Covid-19 than it did in two years of the Great Recession” is latest headline from the Pew Research Center.
It is darkly ironic that the peak of death from Covid may be happening at the same time as the holy week of Passover and Easter, with holy month of Ramadan about to begin on April 24.
All our traditionally sacred passages of purification and renewal have been utterly upended. We are suffering a collective loss of ritual, forced to sacrifice the most basic human instinct we employ when consoling, or celebrating, each other … the ability to touch, to be physically present. There are no funerals, no resurrections, no coming together to grieve, or even to celebrate. Staying six feet apart is torturous for those who are dying, as much as it is for those who are surviving. How do we reconcile such pain in times of collective social isolation?
I listened to Alex Wagner’s exploration of the narrative of redemption, in a previous time of degradation and enslavement, about the Israelites’ collective march towards freedom, the genetic transmission of hope, and the history of generation upon generation walking from darkness to light. She evoked the 9th plague, the plague of darkness, where fear perpetuated a mass hysterical blindness, people could not see their neighbor and their neighbor could not see them. People began to feel impotent and invisible, as if they didn’t exist, suffering the ultimate solitude and corresponding irrelevance. So much of this resonates with what we are experiencing now. We do not see each other in our divided state.
Confusing how we know the right thing to do is to stay apart, yet it seems so inhumane. How will we recover from our lack of touch? Will we all emerge from the darkness with our own redemption story from this time, and what will that look like for each of us? Will our personal and collective exodus lead to a truer vision, and a deeper respect for our shared humanity, for the gift, fragility, beauty, and sanctity of every life? Will we ever see each other again, not as stranger, or other, but as the same?
Everything that is coming to you is a gift.