It’s Time for Healing and A Shift in Priorities
Everyone is already well aware of the tragedy and desperation of this year’s turn of events. But the truth is death by pandemics, massive unemployment, people without health insurance, large segments of vulnerable populations living on the brink from paycheck-to-paycheck, people starving and relying on food banks, people having difficulty paying for rent, small businesses struggling and teetering on closing with only perhaps a few months of reserves – all of these existed before the pandemic.
What’s unique this year is the virus’s reach was so widespread and indiscriminate that everyone suddenly felt vulnerable to any one of these unfortunate situations that previously we have been ignoring as they’ve happened to others in the US or in other parts of the world. But just not to us. The vast majority of us are suddenly paying attention to what already existed because plainly put, our own life, the lives of our families and friends whom we love were suddenly at risk. That’s the cynical, but sad truth.
Our outlook toward the unemployed prior to 2020 was far from compassionate. Instead, the prevailing viewpoint was that the unemployed were lazy, didn’t want to work, even as systemic realities proved otherwise — that jobs have been lacking, technology has wiped out industries, and education and retraining have not been readily available to many.
Prior to 2020, our attitude toward the poor and vulnerable was – “it’s their fault, they’ve made poor choices in life.” When all along, we’re well aware that people’s starting point, the lot they’re born into, in many situations lay the groundwork for their future. Certainly, a few manage to attain vertical mobility. But an unfair system is undeniable, one that propels the advantage upwards; while the disadvantaged stay put or worse, fall through the cracks.
The Lesson of 2020
The buzzword of the early 2000s was “interconnectedness” – meaning that what happens to our neighbors, strangers, others in foreign countries do impact us in more ways than we think. This is true in crime, climate change, and we see so painfully and clearly now, when a pandemic strikes.
COVID-19 heightened this truism of “interconnectedness” in acute and urgent ways. The pandemic is saying that perhaps all of society’s ills (mentioned above) must now begin to be addressed (systemic problems), not just for the sake of being a good humanitarian or doing the right thing, but because the reality is we must fix it before the next pandemic or next worldwide crisis occurs.
Imagine if this pandemic had a higher morbidity rate as the former Ebola (90-plus %) and at the high contraction rate of COVID-19.
That would have been extinction proportion.
Imagine if another major crisis, environmental, massive grid failure or war, broke out alongside the pandemic this 2020. Fortunately, the civil unrest on the streets over BLM and over Trump coinciding with the pandemic did not mushroom to an out-of-control scale and cause unmanageable instability.
We should want normalcy, but not go back to the same
There is a saying that doing the same thing over and over again and getting the same undesired result is insanity.
COVID-19 showed just how unprepared we are. We have been living in this fantasy of comfort when all along, it just took a few weeks to thrust us into the deepest recession, deepest public health crisis.
If we were strong and healthy as we’ve been programmed to believe, the devastation caused by COVID-19 would have been far less than what we’ve experienced in 2020.
No, going back to the way it was would be foolhardy. Normalcy, we want, but a different kind of normalcy. One of awareness, compassion, and readiness.
In this issue’s HFC year-in-review, we’ve included the wonderful, charitable medical mission trip to the Philippines that the Ohana Medical Mission, Inc. made in February, 2020. Compared to the trillion dollar government assistance, massive suffering and political turmoil, it might appear less consequential.
But OMM’s work is precisely what we need more of. Their work speaks volumes of compassion, caring, and responsibility to each other and the “interconnectedness” we have as human beings, humans with souls.
Just a little over a week ago, the world was fascinated with the celestial phenomenon called the “Great Conjunction,” in which Jupiter overtakes Saturn in its orbit. Astronomers say it happens every 20 years, a regular conjunction. But the “Great Conjunction,” the planets being so close together as it did last week happened 800-plus years ago. It is said the celestial phenomenon signals a new age of understanding. Interestingly, the famous Magna Carter, often referred to as the “Great Charter” was created 800 years ago. It’s a document containing the idea that no-one is above the law, and it is still a foundation of modern ideas and modern law. It was created because of widespread abuse by then European aristocracy who practiced immunity from the law.
There is no scientific evidence that the “Great Conjunction” is a harbinger of new understanding. This would be superstition.
But the point is a shift is needed in the way we live and govern. If 2020 and the pandemic taught us anything, it is that we really are our brothers and sisters keepers, as the saying goes. Let’s shift our priorities, unite (as Jupiter and Saturn moved into alignment), and get major work done.
Happy New Year to all. May we find the path to healing we all need, together.