THE PRESENT CRISIS: LIFE DOWN TO ITS ESSENCE

Times Square, NYC. Flickr.

Who ever imagined that Times Square in the Big Apple would empty into a ghost town or the streets of Toronto would clear like smoke? Shuffling behind Asia, we’ve surrendered our Starbucks ritual, vacations, graduations, and worship gatherings. And in so doing, we’ve torn from the social fabric of our humanity: community. What has really upended our life in the West is the power of choice the pandemic has compelled us to forfeit. In our technological prowess and the comforts it’s secured for us, the loss reveals a people who are culturally not very good at suffering. >> Read more.

DH. The Banner magazine

66 thoughts on “THE PRESENT CRISIS: LIFE DOWN TO ITS ESSENCE

  1. very well expressed and with a touch of appropriate Scripture. it is truly a time for Americans especially to pause to consider the lilies of the field and how they grow. take care.

  2. “I am willing not to hoard, but I can’t bank on you.” What a telling statement, Diana. When this is over, what will we find? That should be interesting. Take care, Diana.

  3. Nobody imagined a situation like now in the great capitals of the world. Just as we are not sure to what extent our lives will change after the quarantine is over. The social distance will continue and we will miss the hugs and the meetings with friends. Anyway, it will dawn and we will see.
    A good article that calls us to reflection.
    Manuel

  4. Times Square in the Big Apple and all those other empty big cities suffering, Corvid-19 bad news indeed… But for all the Amazons of this world, love em or hate em, but thank em the powers they be, that we now got em. What with all commerce, as in fashion before em now closed, says without em we starve and or be sick with no delivering of on line food groceries and pharmacies like em…
    Without em be like back in the 30s depression, and the constant chant of, Brother, can you spare a dime… until Roosevelt’s fair deal, started to bring life back.
    Here’s a verse from a poem of mine circa 2013, that speaks of the terrible thirties… just to give a feel;

    “ Brothers ”
    – for but a time –

    I’d heard it said
    Be fortunes lost,
    And later read
    Of human cost,
    Be of men dead
    And riches bust,
    Near nation wide
    While few survived,
    Those who did cried
    Brother please,
    Can you spare a dime,
    Was maxim of the times…

    © Jean-Jacques Fournier

    Ciao, Diana, and take care to be well…
    JJ

    • Thanks. The poem works. And you’re right. It would be even more catastrophic without the online amenities that have become lifelines for us (shall we throw blogging in there?). That is why the students without the means to go online and connect to remote instruction have been hard hit.

      • Absolutely include blogging, and I stand corrected for not having done so, but thankful I am that you did. As to students without the means to go online to connect, this covid-19 crisis should be and must be the wake-up call. Thus to correct these acute social deficiencies, by our governments, and industry leaders, who are in position to act with the knowledge of this said crisis. One that exposed these powers that be to the short-coming and the ignorance of doing nothing until it’s too late. Much like the exposing of the criminal neglect of the homes for the aged, in my neck of the woods, for the majority are one step removed from rat infested dens. Sadly man requires crisis situations do more for the betterment of his fellowman!
        Thank you Diana, for your wonderful motivating apropos post.
        JJ

    • Brother, can you spare a dime? LOL

      I lost my paternal grandparents during 1918. They did not know to observe social distancing. Both my parents were reared as orphans–but for different reasons. My Daddy was just five when he lost his parents and my mother lost her mother just before time to go to college. We can endure. We can be less social. We can focus on what really matters and that is studying to be better for a better day.

      • Thanks for sharing, Beth. I’m always amazed to hear stories from a hundred years ago. We are set up at home with our computers and phones and yet complain as though our world’s come to an end. Healthy folk, I mean.

      • In one sense we are having a rest and we should be glad, but it’s is only because we fit into the “elderly” category. There is plenty to be said for and against that. Living in someone’s vacant home free of charge is a plus, but it also means we have to look for utensils like a potato masher to make our lunch. Being alive is the best part right now.

      • I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the provision of a safe place, Beth. Certainly makeshift living isn’t the easiest, but I count every blessing. Small business owners are rightly crying right now. Some have lost their savings in this crisis, and my friends have been losing loved ones and dear friends to COVID on both sides of the country. I keep thinking of all that I am spared.

      • “Studying to be better for a better day”. With that outlook, there shouldn’t me much standing in your way of achieving your goal of a better day, with room to spare and then some, to share with your parents and grandparent’s memory! Good luck to you knowing you have what it takes to make it happen. Bravo!
        JJ

  5. This virus teaches us that Mother Nature is more powerful than all the social systems we take pride in. Perhaps we need to be more cooperative with Mother Nature as she gets the final say and veto power over our modern lifestyle when it is not in the interests of future generations.

      • Ha ha. Good question. I’m sure Mr. Google can handle that one, but it’s sorta the female version of God for some. At least it’s a recognition of our place in the world.

      • I presume it originated in pagan religions which believe some unknown force is within everything we are conscious of or attribute nature as being under the control of male or female gods. But its used without that connotation today to illustrate that if we fight against nature or the environment if you prefer that term you pay in some way for that indiscretion. Case in point? If we pollute the atmosphere then we contribute to climate change in a negative way.

  6. The remarkable thing is people are responding, without shedding too many tears over our shallow past Iives. Yes, being handed perspective this way is never easy …“ By three methods we may learn wisdom: 
First, by reflection, which is noblest; 
Second, by imitation, which is easiest; 
and third by experience, which is the bitterest. ”
    — Confucius

  7. Yes. You said what I’ve been quietly shouting to my partner behind closed doors. I even mentioned to another blogger that I don’t think Americans have truly come together since WWII. We’re an extremely lucky bunch that has forgotten how blessed they are and how to work as a team. I could really get into a lather over this, but I can’t say it as well as you.

    I was chatting/catching up with my friend American Cambodian friend and he asked if we were okay. I said, this was nothing. We’re fine. He agreed and when I asked him, he said he survived the Khmer Rouge, this (COVID crisis) was ‘a piece of cake’. And we laughed. But I’m sharing a private conversation, I can’t say this really but to a few folks who understand.

    • Sigh – Khmer Rouge, yes. Shudder. In my full article, I cite a rightly famous pastor and author who observed that the generations that came after WWII haven’t known how to suffer. That is what the article springboards off.

      “We’re an extremely lucky bunch that has forgotten how blessed they are and how to work as a team.”

      Said perfectly. The USA has just been stumbling over itself with a president who cries for affirmation left and right, although CA has had a sharp governor, the first in the country to institute the quarantine. I don’t think we can make sweeping judgments, and it begs clarification that people have suffered in different measure on the spectrum. My friends have lost loved ones to COVID on both sides of the country, many are in the red or have lost their savings, esp the small and private businesses. It’s a very hard time to be pregnant, sick otherwise, or giving birth. But those of us who’ve stayed safe hold the majority, and we do well to keep our whining mouth shut.

      • I read the article, it was a good quote from the pastor. Yes, there is true suffering going on. A friend of mine just gave birth to her first child and was gutted when she was told her husband couldn’t be with her. It all worked out in the end, but my goodness there’s a lot going on – agree, it’s time to be extra careful what we complain about! (Should always be the case! :P)

  8. It’s been a powerful exercise for the world, and yes, particularly most of us normally-freedom-privileged/blessed westerners, to see what it’s like to have freedoms reduced. Some very good things have come of it, as well as some things less good. In every situation, some will dive and some will thrive. We have to do our best in these times to bloom where we are panted, and see how the garden pans out.

    I like your post, particularly with the image… I’ve never been to New York. Have only seen it in movies, images and news and so on. Thanks so much for sharing. :))

  9. “But I now realize the mettle and grit of people like my immigrant parents stemmed organically from their understanding of the nature of life. They knew that suffering isn’t an occasional visitor but our home, sure and intrinsic as the cells that make up our body.”
    Diana — this is a brilliant essay and I thank you for sharing. I think my immigrant grandparents passed this down to me as well as suffering is in my DNA. Like you, I don’t see this virus as the end all, but as a bright little light in an otherwise dark world that may help us illuminate a new path if we could all just start with being a little less selfish and self-absorbed. Amen.

    • HA. Amen, Amen. So the lines were long in the beginning. (I try to stay away from Trader Joe’s.) So we had to wait for some items. Gee, we haven’t been rationing as though it were war time. And I figured I can always use rags for tlt paper if it came down to it. Shortage is a good problem to have, considering those who’re falling like flies where my parents are in NYC.

      I appreciate the good word on the commentary. You’ve been like the angel on my shoulder. *Grin*

  10. Congratulations on the publication Diana. It surprises me that people are already calling for an end to a lockdown that has only lasted a few weeks, surely we can last longer than this. Yes there is fear and uncertainty and of course real illness and death, but for those of us not affected by this, it surprises me how little many of us can endure in our comfortable homes with no shortage of food or things to do for leisure.

    • Excellent, J. There are many levels we can answer that. At the level of personal humility as well as the collective, and then importantly, as it applies to our leaders. Those are questions of character and gov’t readiness for future humbling lessons! But if the Californians who were partying at the beach this past weekend are any indication, we’re in trouble.

  11. Brilliant article Diana thank you. It illustrates for me what we’ve taken for granted – and what others fought for. But hells bells, the govt here in my part of the world is on a megalomaniacal trip, curtailing freedoms like never before – I can understand the motive for revolution methinks ..

  12. It’s quite amazing isn’t. Even Time Square cannot protect itself against a small virus. I think we human beings have something we need to learn. Great story – and congratulations with the publication.

  13. Vintage Diana! Great post.
    Those of us who are lucky enough to make it out of the whom in time find that life does not come without risk. Your post reveals an important oversight on the part of many. And that is we foolishly take too much for granted. Not simply the good in our lives but also that we waste our trials in complaint. Those who endure their sufferings come to find that they are not useless. For from endurance emerges a greater good. We need but look to the event of Calvary for proof of that.

    • Joni Eareckson Tada has said she doesn’t want to waste her suffering. I have come to see it is imperative that we don’t, not because suffering is some special addendum to our life we best get the most out of while we can, but because it is the fabric of life this side of heaven. We sure as hec are going to have it even harder if we don’t try to learn from our hardship! I appreciate the humble comment knowing life has brought you its share of challenges, Alan.

      Blessings,
      D.

  14. The “Restart” button seems to have been pressed. While physical distances have been created, artifical distances of money, colour, religion have vanished at the altar of Corona. Everyone is almost equally susceptible, like the article says. Humanity, that evolved over millions of years, developing resistance to disease, staving off predators, developing, changing, are suddenly exposed. Perhaps not the time to look for scapegoats. Hopefully time for introspection.

  15. I’m so pleased I was steered here by an invisible hand to read your post today Diana. At first we were panicked all our work dried up, ways to make our livings then a few weeks in the government SEISS scheme helped out with the bills. Then ‘re-start’ we performed on our balcony for our apartment block complex and have since built up a community of connections that wasn’t there before, I’ve had online lessons with opera singers who wouldn’t normally teach and taken advantage of online courses I normally wouldn’t have time for to try to grow my knowledge.

    you are so right to say that it gives time to really appreciate what matters to you, of course we have to cover the bills to keep a roof over our heads but constantly striving for the next thing has its own stresses and strains and learning to appreciate the small things has been key, realising that what I miss most are family and hugs too. Love to you x stay safe and well.

    • I know the crisis threw your many wonderful plans into a tailspin, Charlotte. But we have learned that some things cannot be quarantined, snuffed out, or lost unless we choose to throw them away. Love, creativity, beauty, music, hope, joy. Thank you for connecting. Wishing you the best the year still holds.

      Diana

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