Since the beginning of time, the unknown has been accompanied by extensive and unimaginable fear. And although too broad of a concept to be applied to all of society, the unknown takes different conceptual forms for every person. Therefore, each of us treks through personal versions of mystery and, with the craving for human sympathy and empathy, long for the moment where an individual, entity, or system can relate to our fears and ignorance. Yet, today’s profound societal distinction and variation have made it difficult to imagine a world unified under a single common fear of a single common unknown. However, the recent world health events have debunked such a thought and proved that we can be internationally connected by the unprecedentedness and uncertainty of living through a pandemic.
Continent after continent, country after country, and person after person have become victims of the vicious and tragic COVID-19 virus. And to stop the spread, political leaders all around the world have issued mandatory stay at home orders and have placed millions into quarantine. There is our first unknown. Before the Coronavirus outbreak, most of society was free, free to travel to and from work, free to eat lunch with friends at school, free to meet family at a local restaurant, free to seal a business deal with a handshake, free to hug a stranger, and free to breathe without obstruction. We entertained daily life in a state of normalcy, became consumed by a mindset of luxury, and got lost in the idea that our norm is the universal norm. The world, constantly plowing through life, lost sight of the fundamental principles of human nature and had ingested conventionality as if it could not be taken away in the blink of an eye, in seconds, and just as fast as your heart can beat.
Therefore, as the Coronavirus pandemic has compromised our freedom and perception of normality and indirectly addressed our ungratefulness, society seems to have entered a period of self-reflection. With that, the concepts of health, safety, survival, family, and love have retaken their positions as some of the most significant guiding principles of human life and stronger thoughts and feelings of appreciation are circulating throughout the world’s atmospheric waves of goodness. It is not everyday that we get such distinct reminders of what it means to be human. And to deal with the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual stresses of living through a pandemic, people need to use this time to earn an understanding. We must understand that the world was reaching a breaking point and moving towards moments that, if ignored, could have developed into thoughts, feelings, and actions that are well beyond dangerous. In accordance, we need to understand that this most unusual time is necessary and if we can withstand the trials of the higher powers that may be, not just as a society but as humanity, will earn much more than interaction in parameters less than six feet, uncovered mouths, and reopened businesses.
However, we are trekking through the unknown and, naturally, there are concerns about how our world will look after the pandemic, both physically and spiritually. Will everyone be able to go back to work? How much longer until the economy completely caves? What about school? Will children receive the education they deserve? Will masks be permanent? Will we always live six feet apart from one another? Can I shake your hand? Are you comfortable with hugs? How does one demonstrate compassion to a stranger? Does paranoia ever fade? What even is normal anymore? Has the pandemic forced us to just go through the motions of life?
So many questions and so many unknowns, yet so many lessons. It is true that we do not know what the future holds for us and the future can not be anything more than something we can never experience because as we live on the future only becomes our present. However, we can have hope that where we’ve been, where we are now, and what’s to come will eventually converge and highlight the unrecognized and unspoken power of living through a pandemic. And for now, the hope is that when this is over, may we never again take for granted a handshake with a stranger, full shelves at the store, conversations with neighbors, a crowded theatre, a Friday night out, the taste of communion, a routine checkup, the school rush each morning, coffee with a friend, the stadium roaring, each deep breath, a boring Tuesday, and life itself. When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we were meant to be, and may we forever be better for each other because of the worst.
This too shall pass and we will all be better human beings because of it.