a mystical möbius Easter missive…
Covid-19 Apocalypse revisited
Is Easter an Apocalypse? Of course! It’s an annual remembrance and celebration of Christ’s work in the opening of our hearts!
Easter is an annual opportunity for opening our hearts to the eternal dynamism of the Real—e.g., an anniversary through which we observe a celebration of Jesus embodying and fully revealing the Death-Resurrection dynamism of existence that, gratefully, we now know in Christ.
I’ve written, and, no doubt, you have heard many others rehearse the claim, that the vulnerable and weak are the ones who invariably suffer the most from any calamitous event, especially an economy-halting calamity like a deadly pandemic. Governor Cuomo wondered aloud in a press conference:
So, where did so many get that idea? Well, you may have heard the claim even before Covid-19, or Katrina, as it is, after all, one of the primal themes we find in the biblical narrative. The prophets have always been the front-people for apocalyptic wisdom.
Two weeks ago I wrote:
In the “Covid-19 Apocalypse?” piece I’m quoting, I argued that while many previously saw the systemic racial and economic injustice in the U.S.A., Covid-19 is serving as an apocalyptic for many Americans.
Well, I’ve used this clip from The Matrix previously. While perhaps a bit hyperbolic to use here, I do feel the clip depicts well the dramatic difference between the way the privileged people perceive Main Street reality [MSr] and the way ‘regular’ people experience MSr:
OK. So, what injustice is being unveiled?
What may seem miraculous, the planet is already beginning to heal and is expressing its gratitude and gladness that humans have (at least momentarily) switched-off the existential assault our carbon-intensive economic system confronts the earth with daily in “normal” pre-virus times. For instance, satellite images reveal that air pollution’s ill effects are already reversing in manufacturing regions like China (see Atlantic article here). And this from euronews:
Just work from home. #SaferAtHome. Our response to Covid-19 is to encourage (even mandate) that people stay at home. This stay home message is now ubiquitous. One can only shudder to imagine how that message strikes the ear of any one of our over half million homeless people in America.
Essential vs Privileged.
I’m not sure who wants to consider their job unnecessary. If an employer is willing to pay an employee a negotiated wage, then certainly to the parties in the employment agreement the work is ‘necessary.’ However, Covid-19 seems to have an intrinsic ability to unveil the distinction between ‘necessary’ and ‘essential.’ ‘Essential’ work, we discover, has to do with the greater good and the immediate well-being of a society, not merely the economic interests of the parties.
The pandemic has unveiled some very troubling economic inequality features of American society in our hyper-individualistic, hyper-consumeristic mode. The virus has shown that even our best response to it is a privileged one. By that I mean many people serve a privileged dimension of the economy that enables them to “tele-work,’ or, “work from home.’ Not so much for those who are truly essential. Essential workers have a front-line quality to their nature. We do well to remember that the privileged voices calling to reopen the economy are not the ones who will actually have to risk very much of anything. They’ll still be #SaferAtHome and tele-working. And so it’s not really an “equal opportunity” virus as so many privileged people like to say. The traditionally under-valued under-paid front-line workers will be the canaries-in-the-mine sent out to see if it’s safe to work and live life outside the home.
So, honestly, a short month ago how many people consciously considered grocery store workers to be highly valuable front-line essential personal? How many of you were actively working to help everyone see the value of grocery workers and advocating to win a living wage for these people who are so essential in sustaining a civilized society? How about immigrant farm workers, are you an activist for a living wage for everyone who works anywhere along our food supply chain? How about bus drivers? How about hospital janitors? Teachers? And so forth.
It’s as though a veil has been lifted from our collective eyes. People can all now see what I imagine the privileged were just too busy and distracted to see before Covid-19. It is as if for the first time we are all able to see that it’s really the people we typically under-value under-respect and under-pay who are the ones who are really “essential” and who carry the society and its ability to function on their broad strong shoulders.
Infection and death rate statistics state the reality in stark black and white terms. Of course, people of color have long understood this well. Covid-19 brings the harshness of white supremacy and the attending uneven/unjust provision of health care into sharp contrast. Decades of inequality in healthcare and economic opportunity in the Black community take both a personal and a systemic toll. The systemic nature and result of white supremacy are painfully apparent in the unfolding of the pandemic in America.
Then, too, the developing world will pay an even far more extreme cost for global economic inequality in the context of Covid-19.
I read an excellent article this week (see here) that is an encouragement to see the emergence of the potential for real transformation as an intrinsic dimension of these calamitous times. The author, Rebecca Solnit, wrote, in a different way, one thing I’ve been trying to say especially these past few weeks:
The first lesson a disaster teaches is that everything is connected.
The idea that everything is connected is an affront to conservatives who cherish a macho every-man-for-himself frontier fantasy. Climate change has been a huge insult to them – this science that says what comes out of our cars and chimneys shapes the fate of the world in the long run and affects crops, sea level, forest fires and so much more. If everything is connected, then the consequences of every choice and act and word have to be examined, which we see as love in action and they see as impingement upon absolute freedom, freedom being another word for absolutely no limits on the pursuit of self-interest. || [e.g., overreaching Red (CP)] [my emphasis]
I feel that in the spirit of same as it ever was, many privileged people would love for things to go back and return to “normal.” I do not feel, nor have I heard, that the leaders of the privileged class have any clue how to put things back the way they were. Given that the systemic injustice of the old “normal” is now visible to everyone, I’m not sure going back to the ‘old normal’ is a plausible option now, even with ‘perfect’ testing.
Chaos or connection?
The chaos theory illustration that a butterfly flaps its wings in Japan and someone catches a cold in Germany was a little too much for many folks’ reasoning. Like chaos theory has shown, Covid-19 revealed the scope of our interconnection, the virus has done so through its energizing of our Beige [AN] survival worldview. Suddenly we are able to (more than) vividly imagine a tiny virus emerging in one part of the world resulting in people all over the earth suffering illness death and economic devastation. With these eyes we are better able to see the value of the people who work in ways that sustain our society.
Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Hallelujah! However, the churches are empty today on Easter Sunday. That’s because Covid-19 does not privilege faithful participants in communal worship with protection against viruses. In this context, the way to love our neighbor is to keep our distance. Why staying at home if able is safer (for everyone) can’t be stated plainly enough:
It’s just fine that the churches are empty today because so is the tomb! Transformation is not trapped and buried away! For you and me, my prayer is that we may allow this Easter to be for us an illustration of the hope that the transformation we passionately seek is indeed a real potentiality. Now, perhaps more than ever!
For those who know what I mean when I say: Don’t forget to raise your Ebenezer often in these trouble times!
All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well. —Julian of Norwich
Please check out the other piece I published today: Grief revisited
[this post approx. 1,450 words (6 mins)]
I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?
Note: I know, trying to introduce a big-picture idea like Spiral Dynamics (a complex developmental anthropology) in this format is ambitious. So, I’m using a serial-approach. Blog introduction (June 30, 2018). First in series (July 1, 2018).