Stephen Fahey: Plague

Now that we’re all rightly trapped in our homes and banned from standing close to each other and the media won’t shut up about what shall hereafter be referred to as Plague, because I can’t stand that other, proper, word anymore, let’s all take a moment to enjoy the upside.

When this is all over we’ll all be glad for what we have. Our homes will be freshly painted, fixed up. Our gardens will look amazing. And we’ll all be a few kilograms lighter from all the walking that we’re doing to stave off the boredom. So it’s not all bad. Also, with the shops closed we’ll have a few extra Euros in our pocket. This is especially important because of the layoffs and the massive bill we’ll have at the end of this. But we’ll come back to that shortly.

The fact is that the bubble has well and truly burst. Outright, there’s no denying this fact. This crazy sadness isn’t happening to those people over there. It’s happening to all of us around the world. Sad as it is that it’s a virus that brought the entire human species together in a single event, we’re all in this as one unit and that is undeniable. Everyone everywhere now knows the true value of a roll of toilet paper, or a loaf of bread, while up until this current emergency many of us took practically all aspects of our lives for granted, but no more. By these awful means, we have been humbled. There will be no „back to normal” after this. Perhaps if it had only lasted two weeks then we would have continued along our overly merry way. But this isn’t a game and we all know it.

Family bonds will be tested. Community bonds will be tested. But that is not say they will be broken. Already, some of those who can are now going beyond their own needs to assist those who cannot. Lessons have already been learned but there are many more to come. Perhaps old skills will be resurrected while we all sit around the fire each evening like owls on a branch in a snow storm. Baking, BBQ and other culinary skills are sure to spike as the family meal once again becomes a focal point of our days.

With all this time and boredom on the world’s hands the likes of musicians, writers, scientists, theologians, philosophers and many more like them will produce new of books, songs, paintings and apps and other software. Thinkers will ponder great questions and theories old and new. Accountants and administrators and parents will catch up on backlogs of work. Overdue future business plans will finally be laid out. And pollution has already started to drop with international flights collapsing.

Regardless of status, wealth, education or location, we are all now forced to take stock of our lives and the lives of all of us around the world. Mix boredom and time with that growing awareness of the state and value of the world, and the creativity and altruism that boredom always brings and it is easy to see the spiritual, scientific and individual human enlightenment that stands days away from us right now. Everyone has been so rushed off their feet all the time that we have lost sight of the nature of our lives. We have lost sight of the value of one another: As evidenced by the unilateral greed of international commerce at the expense of the environment. Thus the slowdown, as stressful as it is, coupled with our innate human creativity, love for one another, and extra time is itself the pause we have desperately needed for decades, whether we knew it or not.

There are hard days in front of us. Nobody is saying otherwise. But beyond those hard days, there is greatness, that same greatness that sleeps within us all. These times are worrying, but they will pass. And we will still be here. And we will be better in ourselves for what these hard days are now teaching us. We’ll be scarred and roughed up and in possession of a bill to beat the bank. But we are not some flash in the pan. We built this international community from dirt all the way up to footprints on the moon. This virus is our fault and we will know the pain of our mistake. But we will not crumble. We will not lie down in that same dirt and be erased. We will continue. We will stand back up and brush ourselves off and make our kids laugh and go back to school. We will reorganise and we will go on. This too will be a story that we tell our grandchildren. But we must own the fact that we have done this as a species, because we are paying for it as a species and because we owe it to those who would come after us to be honest about our mistake so that they do not err as we have.

Stephen Fahey

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