Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Miracle of COVID-19

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By Cheryl Oreglia

We are learning so much during these tumultuous times, but we are not at war with a virus, that's about hatred, violence, and destruction, as it turns out our best defense is love, not hate. I think we're rediscovering the innate value of family, our neighbor, and community, but most importantly how creativity might be our saving grace if we ever hope to fully understand what I'm calling a modern-day miracle.

This year everything looks different from just about any other and our ability to adapt our lifestyle to continually shifting restrictions has been challenging to say the least. Thanksgiving dinners across the country will most likely be smaller events, Christmas might not include relatives from across the country, or grandparents who remain our most vulnerable population. We've not only put off grooming, socializing, traveling, worshiping, mourning, but celebrating life and our most cherished traditions.

I think it's interesting to note how science fiction writers have historically taken on threatening pandemics, zombie apocalypses, and alien invasions, presenting worst-case scenarios, and our less than stellar human response to the unknown, especially when livelihoods are threatened, common goods are in short supply, and we resort to hoarding, hunkering down, amassing weapons, and preparing for battle.

We're such a vindictive species!

We have fought against many different threats in our past, at first with sticks, swords, spears, cannons, machine guns, and finally atomic bombs as we squabble over land, power, equality, and necessary commodities that were pertinent to our survival.

Here we are in 2020 with our established constitution, policies, two-party government, allies, well-supplied military, but currently it is our susceptibility to a complex virus that is creating animosity between us.

As we race towards a vaccine, a solution, a panacea if you will, the world watches and waits, but maybe the disease is not the virus, maybe we are the disease?

This virus could care less about borders, nationalities, cultures, skin color, social status, or the strength of one's military. What we need to establish is a strong sense of personal responsibility and collaboration if we hope to overcome this virus. It's as counter-cultural as Jesus was in his time, calling for compassion, mercy, justice, solidarity, kindness, and peace in a time when survival depended on the strength of one's clan when confronted by violent regimes.

The message recently launched by Pope Francis is "no one is saved alone," and that seems particularly relevant to our current situation. We are called to be altruistic in a society that prides itself on individualism and independence. Cooperation is going to be key in terms of our eventual salvation both spiritually and physically from this plague.

This worldwide lockdown is in response to a contagion that has taken advantage of our "congested" lifestyle. Crowded markets, sporting events, theaters, churches, bars, travel industry, cruise ships, prisons, weddings, funerals, and communal celebrations have spread this invisible virus to every known part of the globe, and we can no longer ignore the need for separation, restraint, and personal responsibility.

I wake up every morning comparing and contrasting my old life with this new one and the difference is striking. As I try to envision what a post-coronavirus world will look like I'm struck by the importance of storytellers. People are writing about the pandemic from every corner of the world, sharing their unique perspective, their victories, and their failures so the rest of us can benefit. This is likely the most curative thing we can do.

Was it only eight months ago when I was confronted by this new reality? At first, I thought it was sort of exciting, I figured we'd be in lockdown for a few weeks, maybe a month, and now we see how this virus has deceived us all, we'll most likely be under the influence of COVID-19 for decades to come.

I believe it takes obedience and humility to do what is asked of you, that is miraculous, that is what it means to be saintly. We can all do this today. This contagion is intermingled with the air we breathe, and it has brought us to our collective knees, some are more vulnerable than others, but no one is exempt. It will take all of us working collectively to fully eradicate this virus from our world and that in itself is miraculous indeed.

When I'm not writing for Across the Board, I'm Living in the Gap, join me anytime.

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