The virus doesn’t care about your job. The virus doesn’t care about your parents or your children or your friends. The virus doesn’t care about your vacation plans, your bills, your investments, your graduation or your wedding. The virus doesn’t care about borders, or politics or the way your ears hurt when you wear a mask. The virus doesn’t care about the world we have built.
Here is a truth: Our world has changed. It feels like this pandemic happened all of a sudden but we’ve been building toward this for a very long time. Small changes accumulate, little by little. That is how disruption happens…slowly, slowly, slowly and then all at once.
Don’t pretend you didn’t see it coming. We all knew a pandemic would hit us one day. Everyone could see the warning signs, the same way we all see the catastrophe of global warming happening around us. We just chose to ignore the red flags. We didn’t act. We didn’t plan. We hedged our bets and waited until a crisis happened.
Now we want to go back to the way it was. We want to reopen. Of course we want to reopen. We want to return to normal because it was our world. We built it. It was ours!
But it’s gone and we languish, in denial about the magnitude of the impact…the human toll, the economics, the scale and scope of what’s still to come. We thought it would be like SARS. We’d take a few days off, make some bread and the problem would go away. We could buy t-shirts saying we survived COVID 2020 and wear them when we went out to brunch.
Avoiding the truth makes sense. Our world was comfortable. Our worldviews were familiar. Now we just want the world to settle down so we can return to our routines. But that world is gone. That World Is Gone. It’s gone!
Of course we want to deny our plight. We screwed up. Nobody wants to face fallout from bad choices, especially when there are plenty of people willing to reinforce the denial for their own ends. We don’t want to leave our comfort zone. We don’t want to have our beliefs challenged. We don’t want to face this truth. It’s upsetting and scary and we’re just getting started.
But, that’s how consequences work. We took excessive risks. We were careless and took too many liberties. We craved immediate gratification, fame, luxury and profit. We believed in what was convenient and looked away from those things causing dissonance.
Every action has a consequence and our choices add up. Now there’s a reckoning. That’s the reality of this world. We’ve been playing with our world like it was a game of Risk. We thought we could rule this world and control the outcomes with money and power. And now, some claim that we can outsmart the virus with optics and fantasy and by twisting actuality. But, wishing doesn’t make it so.
The virus doesn’t care about opinions.
We are human – we make mistakes. We are also stubborn and would rather blame someone else than take responsibility for the problems we create. We look for short cuts.
But pretending everything is okay only makes it worse. It’s destructive. More people will get hurt…3,000 deaths a day by month’s end…historic economic collapse...and so many ripples. The pandemic and the corollaries of the virus will continue to rage unchecked until we get it together.
Grief is lousy but that is where we are right now. We are mourning. I wish there was a simple way to fix the problem. I’d love to give you answers: 5 Hot Tips to Halt the Tragedy of the Novel Coronavirus. But none of us can do that.
This is happening. We are here.
We have lost our world. None of us knows how it will turn out. We are grieving; each in our own way but for everyone there is only one way out and that is to go through it.
We need to own our mess. We need to look realistically at what we have done to our planet and who we have become. That’s a lot to ask. For now, all most of us can do is be present…listen…and let go; and press our Federal Government to grasp what needs to be done.
There’s so much to let go of: Security, connection, and normalcy. We’ve lost people we love. We’ve lost the assurance we’re all going to make it through. We’ve lost money and jobs and plans for our future. It’s emotional. It’s sad. It is devastating in ways that are confusing and overwhelming. It’s infuriating - naturally we look for someone to blame. Anger feels better than anxiety and heartbreak.
There will always be charlatans, there will always be carpetbaggers –there will always be people who want to use us and take advantage. There will always be fools who allow it, taking the easiest way out instead of the best. It comes down to personal choices: What will I choose to do with my time? How will I choose to live in this world? What will I contribute to build a new future? Who will I choose to help?
The pandemic is not an isolated accident. It is part of a global, systemic problem. Our wheel is in a rut. One thing leads to another – inequity, poverty, environmental disaster, war. We have set up this trajectory and the dominos are falling. It will not let up until we face what we have created and figure a collective way forward.
There is this: We can build a future that is better than the one we are leaving behind. But, first we must accept what we are confronting. Our course was not sustainable. Our path has given way. This is happening. We are here.
Stop trying to carry on as if everything is okay. Let grief in. Sit with the loss and be present. Breathe in and breathe out. Reach out for help when it gets too hard. Carry on as best as possible. Be grateful. Be kind. Be compassionate.
In our grief, once we have looked hard at our losses and taken stock of our lives, we must step up and acknowledge our complicity. Only then can we make better choices. Only then can we can address the problems we’ve created and reconcile where we are and where we want to go. Then, we can consider what we want to keep and what is better discarded. We can allow change to engage us with hope and anticipation.
And one fine day we will build a new world. We will look to science for facts. We will support our artist’s creative visions and look to our musicians to give us a beat. We will foster a glorious dream for who we want to be. We will choose collective truth over individual delusion. We will remember we are one people on one planet - a single species of almost nine billion and that our goal is not domination but resilient coexistence. We will be inclusive. We will build a new language that’s intersectional. We will thrive in an ecosystem of inseparable differences. We will look for our new way forward and find it is good.
The virus doesn’t care whether you believe this or not.