The times that we have been living in for the past few weeks, and will continue to live in for the foreseeable future, are undoubtedly unusual, as most evident from the fact that I am writing this from my hometown and not my dorm room, and you are reading this on a website and not in a newspaper delivered to your building. It’s a time that causes all types of feelings: fear, doubt, annoyance, anger, anxiety, depression or truly anything on the barometer of emotion.
I, for one, am a little scared — and a little stir-crazy.
What is craziest about the existence and repercussions of the coronavirus is that the past few years have seemed so crazy that this has almost felt like a natural progression of what was to come next. The last half-decade alone has seen authoritative turmoil both here and across the globe, revolutions of thought and the backlashes that followed them, an environmental crisis equally balanced by skepticism and constant worldwide stories of terrorism, discrimination and fearmongering. It has made these last few years last a lifetime. Remember that last U.S. presidential election? That was less than four years ago.
The constant battle for power and intellectual prowess across media outlets, political parties and good-natured people on social media has been going on every waking moment of our recent memory. It always felt like it was leading up to something. Perhaps it was an outbreak of civil war or some Manson-fantasy social crack in the masses. Maybe it has been leading to the ever-lingering possibility of nuclear anger and warfare becoming a reality.
All of this hate and anger and fear have been building up more and more with every day that has passed. And then suddenly, everything stopped.
The coronavirus became a global threat and caused all leaders of the once-connected bodies of land on this planet to take precautions, sooner or later. Establishments closed. Medical professionals ran to their posts. Every nonessential operation halted in its tracks, and the world began to conduct itself by strict social distancing policies. Our university closing was the least of it.
The whole world, more or less, is sitting at home and twiddling their thumbs, with plenty of time to do anything. It is very difficult not to think that as horrible and life-altering as this virus and this outbreak are, perhaps this was the right time for them to happen.
Sitting at home, no place truly to go other than the next room, it is hard not to take this time to reflect on the events of the world in the last few years, as they have come and gone so fast that it takes the whole world stopping everything for you to catch your breath. Thinking about all of this, a world that can be seen as saturated with hate, ignorance and discord and as the exact opposite of what we were all raised to live in, can make a person lose hope in just about everything.
But this pandemic brings about a strange opportunity: a chance for humanity as a whole to be reborn in love.
During this time of social distancing, almost the entire world is doing the exact same thing together. I can’t think of a time that that has ever happened before. And the best part of it is, at the end of the day, we are doing it for each other.
In a time of such a crisis, we are called to act on behalf of not just ourselves, but everyone, whether they live on our street or oceans away. It is action driven by pure compassion and a common love for humankind that is not always so evident.
We can take this time to think about the kindness and compassion we feel and show for one another, whether we know a person or not, and think about the state of our world in light of this love that can sometimes feel lost. The love we are displaying for each other right now can give us the strength that we collectively need to fix our problems, as this pandemic is, in an almost inexplicable way, a chance to unite us.
These are the types of things I think about as I take my long, meditative walks around the neighborhood here at home every day, listening to musical masterpieces ranging from Mozart to Miles Davis to Maroon 5 and looking out onto the horizon and into the heavens, remembering how small our human problems are in the planet, solar system and universe we are born from and live in together. In fact, all of this keeps reminding me of my favorite lyric from Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”: “I see friends shaking hands saying ‘how do you do,’ they’re really saying, ‘I love you.’”
One day in the coming months, hopefully as soon as possible, we will all join back together in the real world and do more than shake hands. We will hug, dance, laugh and speak to each other in a closer fashion than just a Zoom call. We will be reunited as the human race, coming from the same ancestors and walking the same terrestrial ground.
And if we all do our part, we can live as one.