An early morning pandemic walk to clear my head turned into more than I bargained for and made me think in ways I had long forgotten. The bright morning sun contrasting with dark, ominous clouds seemed like they were completely indifferent to me as I pondered our plight.
It occured to me that regardless of whether you believe we were put here by a celestial or emerged from primordial goo, it’s our capacity to wield empathy and foresight that separates us from every living creature on this planet, and now we’re experiencing an existential test of our own making. And yet even though we remain indescribably frail and overwhelmingly frightened, it is our passivity now that will cost us dearly later. Unscrupulous politicians and a dysfunctional capitalist system can only go so far to pacify us with take-out food and Netflix specials.
Never has it become more important in human history to remind ourselves that only empathy can stem the tide of paranoia when it comes to this virulent disease. We have to be good to one another. We simply can’t afford to let propaganda rule the day when it comes to our peace of mind. Returning to normal means indulging in regular activities and habits which previously brought real joy. and they will bring joy again if you allow your mind to be the anchor rather than tethering yourself to the chaos and uncertainty bred by political misanthropes and corporate thieves.
This virus has eviscerated our elderly and destroyed our needy. It’s plundered our economy and pummelled our sense of security. We continue to carry on like zombies because we don’t know what else to do. But that doesn’t mean we place our faith in leaders unquestionably. By every stretch of the imagination this pandemic could have been managed and contained properly if brutally complacent elites had taken the time to see the world through the eyes of the downtrodden and dispossessed rather than embracing their ivory towers and reeking avarice.
But instead of improving the existing financial system or liberating us from the old ways of callous indifference, we are now privy to a reckoning. As our collective suffering grows, we need to start asking: where are these captains of industry to help the common man? Where is the altruism needed to feel that at a time when millions are out of work and can’t possibly make ends meet that someone actually has our back? To help fend off greedy corporations ready to feast on what remains of our consumer entrails like packs of hungry vultures?
Where are the wealthy profit-mongering monoliths who offer internet, insurance, utilities, credit cards, mortgages and transportation? Are they aware that a middle-class won’t exist once all this is over? How do they sleep at night? Their silence is deafening. Sadly, the answer for so many of us will only come from inside, and that means preserving your mental health at all costs. Exercise. Meditate. Breathe. Love. and Read. Learn about the world around us. Don’t stop embracing your capacity for knowledge.
Read about geography and history. Understand the nature of post-war era global institutions and why populist leaders failed us so miserably. Try learning about those who came before this stretch of troglodytes to better contextualize the difference between a hero and a liar. Read Daniel Defoe or James Baldwin or Ernest Hemingway or Maya Angelou..but read, read, READ and let your imagination ponder critical questions and make you want to fight the good fight. Be fearless in your quest for knowledge; the more you’ll learn, the less you’ll conform.
It’s a simple equation that only works if you want to lead a better life. Otherwise, to learn nothing from this moment in history and returning to a “new” normal where monoliths and multinationals stomp on the ashes of small businesses and fearless entrepreneurs – this will undoubtedly lead us to inevitable despair and likely destroy whatever remains of our sense of justice. The world doesn’t care for fairness or good intentions, but it does reward solidarity, creativity and inspired thought when it comes to standing up for what’s right.
Because all that leads to the start of something better than what we had the day before.
This was a long walk.
Bonum certamen certare, my friends.