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Reflection: Being Human in Trying Times

Temple in Chang Mai with Thai Airways Jet

If you, like me, are currently hunkered down at home to avoid contact with other humans I suggest that between the Netflix movie marathons you take the time to engage in some reflection on being human and what that means.

What we are going through right now is not unique to human existence. Think Black Death or Bubonic Plague, malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, smallpox, influenza and the 1918 Spanish Flu. But experiencing an actual pandemic is far different from reading about past afflictions.

This History piece lists the human pandemics that changed history. It is a fascinating read and reminds us that we are little different from our ancestors. One thing we can get from our present reality is the feeling that those in the past must have felt. Does that help us? No, but it gives us perspective. With all of our knowledge, all of our miraculous advances in medicine and technology, we still are brought to our knees by an invisible virus. How could it have happened? One more relevant question might be: Why did it take so long for it to happen? It’s happened before . . . and it will happen again.

One view about what is happening is that Mother Earth is attempting to make a population adjustment to quell overpopulation and the climate crisis caused by it. Nature finds a way, right? I suppose some religious people may see the coronavirus as God’s way of punishing us for our sins so this is sort of a Noah’s Ark moment.

What is interesting is how humans are so self-centered as to think it’s all about them. Actually, Covid-19 has been good for the planet. Pollution is way down because in China and other countries many heavy industries are shut down and everywhere people are driving much less. One of my old friends who lives in Bangkok mentioned that the air there is so much cleaner than usual because people are not on the roads. And this is true in city after city, country after country. Please see:

and one with a slightly different slant:

So, while the earth is benefitting from our plight, people just trying to live and work have been seriously fucked by this thing. In no way am I trying to diminish the terrible pain caused by the sickness and death from the virus, along with the difficult times we all face as our livelihoods and businesses are severely affected. Maybe in the long run this will make us stronger. I don’t know. I hope so.

My point here is to ask us all to reflect a bit on what is going on. It isn’t some new “thing.” Civilizations from the beginning of time, when humans changed from hunter/gatherers to become farmers, have experienced what we are experiencing. Most in the past had no idea what was causing their misery and death. At least we know about the virus that is afflicting us. Does that help? Maybe, probably not.

So, we should take some time to reflect on our humanity—our kinship with those who have gone before. What will we learn from this? How may this make us stronger? How might this make us better humans. How might it bring us closer to our fellow humans?

Lovers on beach--Jan Juc/Torquay Australia

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