So. The obligations of Ramadhan are behind you, and you have celebrated your renewal of faith through the Eid observance, hopefully, well and in a good frame of mind... what comes next?
Can you get beyond the never-ending, always changing restrictions, and the social implications of Covid-19? If you can, you are strong beyond description, a paragon of virtue, the quintessence of patience, the epitome of understanding, and the archetypal example of the modest, moderate, progressive individual we should all aspire to be... of any nationality, faith, colour, or gender. Anne Frank suggested in her poignant diary that we should, when we are afraid, lonely, or unhappy, we should “go outside, find somewhere quite alone, with the heavens, nature, and God.” But it’s not so easy, is it?
Or do you still feel the weight of the pandemic on your shoulders every day when you wake up? Is the pandemic affecting your health, your ability to do your job effectively, your relationships with others, your financial status, or your ability to plan effectively for the future, particularly for yourself, and your loved ones? Don’t worry, you are certainly not alone, as after a year of lurching from one lockdown situation to another, one set of restrictions to another, in what appears to be a ‘hamster wheel’ existence, a ’lab rat’ culture, a thoroughly depressing set of social circumstances, featureless and futureless.
I may even be, unwittingly responsible for some of those depressing signs of our current existence, as for most of the last 59 weeks I have focused on offering advice and guidance to you, seeking to change attitudes to the pandemic. I have been encouraging you to practice social distancing, and to not only exercise an awareness of the dangers of Covid-19 to you, your families, and friends, but to your extended families, your communities, and your society.
However, I am done with it now! I am done with trying to save you from yourselves because the only conclusion I can draw from this current impasse between the way I see this pandemic, and the way you see it, is a gulf too wide, a bridge too far... an unreachable star. If you cannot recognize Einstien’s opinion that “doing the same thing all the time, and expecting a different result,” is the ultimate definition of... well, foolishness... then you cannot be helped.
There is a small upside, in that some are responding so effectively, and with such compassion and energy. Morgan Harper Nichols wrote, “Going through things you never thought you would have to, takes you to places you never thought you could go to.” Of course, I am referring of the health workers around the world who place themselves at risk every day of the week. They deserve much more than our thanks, but at least through International Nurses Day, on May 12, we could offer some recognition of that profession’s commitment, albeit only words.
Arundhati Roy, 1976 Booker Prizewinner, wrote that historically, pandemics have forced us to break with the past and imagine our world in new ways, saying, “This one is no different, it is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.”
She is advocating that my world, our world, your world, will never be the same again... and she may well be right!
I am disappointed how this society has responded to the challenges of the pandemic, that even now, far too many of you are denying it, rejecting the pandemic to suit your own agendas. Any response to community issues, from the bottom to the top, requires responses that are common to all, without exceptions.
Too many community leaders have either not spoken, or not been heard, and as chosen, appointed, or elected leaders, have not therefore, fulfilled the expectations of those who look to you for inspiration. So, what comes next?