COVID-19: Mirror of Our Soul, Visions of Our Future
As I write this in April, 2020, the terrorist reign of the virus has not even yet reached full pitch in the United States, and thousands are dying around the globe. The virus has shown us just how connected we are, and I pray we remember that we are part of an infinitely complex web “after” its wrath subsides.
The effects of COVID-19 upon our world and every society, whether “First World” or “Third World,” are beyond prediction or proactive resolution at this time, but we must begin to objectively examine those issues that have contributed to the exacerbation of the virus’ effects, and do our best to look into what the implications are for our future society, both in the near term and toward the farther horizon. Listening to the media, we hear a great deal of discussion by many, ranging from well-informed pundits and medical/science authorities, to those with ulterior political motives, whether intentionally and knowingly or through ignorance, spreading false information (disinformation and misinformation). Undoubtedly foreign adversaries are promoting this, to sow discord among us as we approach the November elections. We must be on guard and not allow ourselves to be deceived. Each of us has a duty to ourselves, family, country and the world actually, to do our best to critically analyze what we hear, both for reasons of protection and planning, but probably more importantly on the whole, for moving toward a better world for all. This virus is a mirror to what we have been and presently are, a mirror into our very souls as a nation and world community. Seeing the reflection of our souls, we should apprehend glimmers of guidance on what awaits in the future and how we need to change to become better human beings and rectify that which led us here.
It is our great misfortune that we have at the time of this writing a President who thrives on cacophony, chaos, disinformation, obfuscation and outright multiple daily lies; a man who is an ego-maniac, only concerned with himself, who showed his true colors on the stage with Vladimir Putin, who cozies up to the worst dictators and oligarchs on Earth, and who brings out the worst in the worse specimens of our citizenry. Whether this Country can survive the debacle of his presidency, or reign, remains in question, although I do have faith we will, because I believe a majority of Americans choose to elevate the principals enshrining the foundation of our Nation. It is impossible to write any account of this historical episode without speaking some about politics, but I have endeavored to focus on those elements of our spirit that will carry us through, love of our fellow human beings, and love of self as a divine spirit. But to the side of Trump’s credit, he did not bring this upon us, we brought it down on ourselves, allowing rampant poverty, poor nutrition, poor healthcare and failure to continue to lead the world in slowing climate change. We did this, due to embedded inequities and racism; allowing various lobbing groups to serve up heaps of bad, chemically/hormonally contaminated food stuffs; allowing food deserts in poor urban and rural communities; allowing healthcare to become mostly profit-driven; and most recently, and Trump must wear this Scarlet Badge, withdrawing as the leader of the free world.
What we are living, and dying, amidst right now presents an opportunity for deep reflection and self-examination of what we truly believe in, to acknowledge our mortality and to consider ourselves as part of a whole, choosing to forego our capitalistic attitudes of overly focusing only on ourselves. We are all in the boat together on a tempest sea, and we should be holding the hands of those in the water, clinging to the side of the boat, not turning our backs and forgetting them as they slip into the abyss.
While it is easy for one to assert that the COVOID-19 virus is a “great equalizer” — not caring if we are rich or poor, of good character or not — in fact, that is not at all true. Those most suffering from the virus, most susceptible to having their lungs ravaged by its tiny soldiers, are typically people of color, and people all hues trapped in the lower economic strata of our Country, and our elders crowded into nursing homes. Right now there is a great cry for ventilators across our land, and across the seas, but what statistics that are available to the public inform that the majority of patients in urban centers requiring ventilators, especially intubation, are Black and Brown. Reports tell of around 80% of those on ventilators passing away; those who make it through intubation have weeks and months of recovery ahead, and afterward their prognoses are not good. It appears the damage inflicted by the virus and by the treatment itself, can be lasting and inhibit returning to any “pre-sickness” state of health; i.e., victims likely will not be the same persons if they survives time in intensive care, particularly if elderly and/or poor, often patients of color.
The fact is that COVID-19 is holding a mirror up to the soul of America, and we need look — we must look — and see the decades of wrongs embedded in our society that has imprisoned so many in poverty and poor health, mainly those of color living in decayed inner cities and southern rural areas. In time the reflection will vanish as the disease is put at bay, but we cannot afford now to believe we can just return to “life as it was before.” We must draw from this collective experience lessons that will change us as human beings and change America.
In New York at the time of this writing, there are thousands of deceased corpses “piling up” in make-shift morgues and mortuaries, and burials of the unclaimed, and many are unclaimed, are being interred at Hart Island, a historic cemetery for African Americans and the poor and unwanted. Similar scenes are being repeated in major metropolises across the Land, as the infection spreads.
So really we are in a war, as has been acknowledged by the Administration. Already this war has claimed more American lives than 9–11 and the ensuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and is passing the number of names on the Vietnam Memorial in D.C., and the dying goes on. But I return to the statistics that say that it is not those who are white nor those who are well educated who work from home or work in offices that are dying at the highest rate. It is the Black or Brown man or woman working at jobs that place them in maximum exposure to masses of other people, Black and Brown men and women who are at the lower end of our economy, especially elders who have lived their lives in poverty.
People who are not in good health, who have “underlying” or not-so-underlying health conditions — “co-morbidities” — who often live in households having more than the “average” family of four under one small roof, those who work long hours often in close proximity to others like them, are the ones bearing the brunt of COVOID-19.
It is these same people, fathers, mothers, abuelas, abeulos, grandpa’s and grandma’s, aunties, tias, uncles, tios, “Nanas” and “Pawpaws” who also more often than not either have no health insurance at all, or are on Medicaid or Medicare if they have been so fortunate (compared to others). As anyone knows, even having some form of insurance grants no relief, for often to be seen by a doctor and then get some form of treatment, can be an obstacle way to high, due to co-payment, out-of-pocket high limits, et cetera. Depending on what State one resides also can place one in an untenable category, of making too much to be allowed on Medicaid, but with prospective insurance premiums that can be more than the person even takes home. So, people cannot, and do not seek any healthcare. One just prays.
But there are many people who succumb, who are not of the ranks of the poorer, who are white, not people of color. While the statistical data is sparse at present, we know that often these are residents of nursing homes or other elder-care facilities. I know firsthand from having visited my grandparents, and later on, being responsible for my mother-in-law after my wife passed away, what these facilities are like, both the better ones and those filled with poor, Medicaid residents. Even the better, and very expensive, facilities, although not nearly as crowded, are very prone to the spread of any contagious disease, since dining and activities are done in group settings. Those facilities that cater to those on Medicaid take crowding to the extreme, and moreover, the staffing of nurses and attendants is often sparse, and the pay being so low attracts workers who themselves come from families at risk. All of this adds to create in the case of COVOID-19, the “perfect storm” scenario, and we are seeing the cost in lives of residents and staff at so many such facilities now.
The absence of adequate preparation for such a pandemic is inexcusable, as was the delay in initiating aggressive response early on by Trump. The speed of ramping up testing across our population is likewise inexcusable. At the current rate it will be many months before enough people have been tested to get a clear picture of the infection of our populace.
It is likely that anyone of any race, or any age, can take a turn for the worse when infected. Perfectly “normal” appearing persons presenting no signs of other latent problems seem to also be vulnerable, but it may be a long while before researchers are able to uncover exactly how the virus can cause our bodies to react.
A healthy person is best suited to fight off any virus and recover. But it is no secret that the United States, the nation with perhaps the most robust large economy on the planet, has a larger percentage of unhealthy people due to poor eating habits and in many cases, unavailability of healthy food in many urban areas. The onslaught of corporate food growers and processors has for the last fifty years dominated our food supply chain, and only in the last 20 years have Americans, mostly those living in suburban areas with higher incomes, had access to stores focusing on “health foods.” Compared to much of the Free World, Americans in particular are grossly undereducated regarding healthy eating. This, combined with lack of exercise and the stress of the “rat race” so many run every workday, has set us up to be one of the unhealthiest populations in the modern world. So, it is little wonder that this virus is taking the toll it is.
The combination of poverty, poor healthcare or no access to healthcare, poor eating habits and often lack of access to nutritious food, work and lifestyle crowding, all these are contributing to the mortality we are witnessing. But our mirror will certainly show to us that most of these problems are the result of values and politics. Income disparity, historically embedded racism in the structures of our cities, and fundamental differences of political views between those who have and want to keep, versus those who want to share or need to have more, have formulated a society ripe for this virus.
There is no one who has not or is not sacrificing to some degree in the present pandemic. However, there are forms and gradations of sacrifice. Those nurses, doctors and others on the front line of helping others undoubtedly are making a major sacrifice every hour and day that the rest of us find hard to really comprehend. They are truly battlefield heroes! I cannot imagine the stress and worry one must feel having spent hours in the midst of a COVOID-19 ward, then go home to family, all the while wondering if you may be carrying the disease home. Many do not even go home for that reason, preferring to stay in hotel rooms if so “fortunate,” or sleep in their cars in their driveways, or side streets by their hospitals. While writing this I learned of a doctor, head of the emergency department of a major hospital in Manhattan, who took her own life. She had contracted the virus herself, then fought it off and recovered, returned to work, but was soon sent home, and not long thereafter ended her life. She had been through hell and back, and while at the time of writing this book it is still unknown if the virus played a role in her mental state neurologically, the fact is she was a hero, like thousands of others in the battle. I hope one day a memorial will be built, as we do for our war heroes, memorializing their sacrifices.
All of us are sacrificing, foregoing in some small ways, but often in very significant ways. I cannot imagine the hardships on families, especially the poor, having to stay indoors day in and day out, with children. Poor people often have larger families, and live in smaller abodes, so the emotional stress within the families can lead to domestic violence, child abuse and assaults on women and girls by the men living under the same roofs. Even middle-class families cannot escape the taxation on their nerves, with school and youth sports activities curtailed. While there is an endless number of memes and cartoons about the present “quarantine,” like those showing kids taped to the walls or floors by exasperated parents, or dogs begging for the humans to stop taking them for so many walks, within each of us is the profound wish for this to “go away.” In time we will win this fight, but it requires all of us to exercise patience, while also pressuring the government to take care of us who need help financially and a myriad of other ways. As a Buddhist, I often say to friends and family, that patience is the greatest virtue. By being patient with troubles, we remove a great deal of stress and concomitant anger and confusion. A few months, a couple of years, are nothing compared to what the Greatest Generation went through in WW2. This too is war, and we must stay in the present, and know the future will take care of itself if we what is required to win.
Sadly, it will not just go away, and if we are too win, just as in any war, we must continue to sacrifice for the common good. However, our livelihoods and the Nation’s economy depends on our Government acting quickly and judiciously to shore up our bank accounts. It is imperative that Washington get additional relief deposits out to the average person without further delay. We can rebuild this Nation’s economy quickly only if we are not homeless or our businesses beyond reclamation.
Wealthier families usually do have access to high-speed internet, and therefore are connected to the world in every way, including on-line schooling for the kids. Surprising, a large number of poorer families do not have such access, and parents are having to scramble to find ways as a minimum to give their children access to on-line class material. Many mothers are having to spend a large part of their days in their family vehicle, filled with their children, parked where they can pick up free Wi-Fi to connect to the school programs. One outcome lesson for America is that it high-speed access should be a virtual “right” in today’s world, just as universal healthcare. Good education and good health go hand in hand.
There is one common wish we all have, besides that “it” would just go away, and that is the wish to return to our freedom of movement and commerce. Never before in our lifetimes have we been confronted with the dilemma such a wish balances upon, for until there is a direct cure or preventive for COVID-19, any return to close socialization means many, many more will die, and those who die will be our elders, our friends and family with health conditions, older and younger; however, those over 60 will be impacted much more so than the younger generations. This is not a slot machine to play in the casino, but a “choice” of who will return to a level of self-fulfillment and “normalcy” and who will take their last breaths, dying without family present and interred without family present. So who decides this, political extremists whipped up by one Donald Trump, or by local authorities mindful in their hearts and minds of the tradeoffs and consequences?
At the time of my writing this, one can assert with a high degree of validity that this Nation is at the tipping point: civility and positive change on one side, and dark chaos on the other. Which will our Nation choose, or is it that just by the sheer randomness of events and human words and actions, that we slide into a bottomless pit?
Words matter so much. When the leader of the “Free World” speaks of injecting COVID-19 victims with disinfectants or penetrating their bodies with ultraviolet light to kill the virus “in a minute,” rational people — the extreme majority — whether educated or not, should shudder at the sheer absence of intelligence at the helm of our great ship. Politics aside, regardless of whether the man in the Oval Office is Republican, Democrat or “other,” we should all be wincing at such publicly spoken, asinine absurdities.
The total absence of clear and consistent leadership at the National level is a major factor in determining which weigh the highly unstable situation will tip, regardless of the outcome of the November, 2020, election. Words and deeds have a ripple and often multiplying effect as they resound off the walls of the political dugouts, exacerbating an already horrendous predicament, that being do we trade lives for livelihoods.
Frankly our economy — the “economy formerly known as America” — is broken, and will never be put back together. Our economy, and the world economy, is so complex, permeating various dimensions with countless links, that once broken it will not be rebuilt as it was. If the reader has ever dropped a plate made of the type of glass that is microwaveable, the image I am speaking of is clear. The only way to rebuild that plate is to grind it up, heat it to molten glass, and pour into a new mold.
We all want to “go back to work” — our collective yearning for a return to “normalcy.” As I write this there are protests occurring in various cities, of those who are pushing back against the shutdowns of business and “normal” activities. Anyone can sympathize with the frustration of our situation, and we should all honor the right to protest. But when we see many of these demonstrators wearing “MAGA” caps and toting firearms the underlying message is clear. As I said above, words matter, and when we see the President repeatedly talking out of both sides of his mouth, saying states should follow “his” National guidelines on reopening our society, while in the next breath saying he supports those demonstrating, his real intent is clear. That intent is to shove the full responsibility for any failures on state governments, so he can point blame if needed, while continuing to voice subtle “dog whistles” to his extreme base. It is this extreme base, combined with the current political bent of the Supreme Court, that I predict will result in tying up the results of the next election, if the Democrats win. Donald Trump will not leave the Presidency willingly, but will use every devious means he can, from numerous law suits over election results, to inciting riots, which could quickly lead to death and destruction. While most Americans have been distracted by COVID-19, we cannot forget for long the state of politics preceding the outbreak. But at the moment we must not forget science, which informs a tentative path toward recovery.
I choose to believe that common sense will prevail in this tragic play we are living within. By in large we humans realize that without our being able to live and move about with constant fear and apprehension in the backs of our minds about catching the virus, business, governmental, educational and recreational pursuits cannot just be switched back “on.” We understand that we cannot trade lives for livelihood in one fail swoop
We can rise from this fire like the mythological fire bird, the “Phoenix,” but we must leave our past social animosities in the ashes. If we have learned nothing else from this pandemic, the over-arching lesson is that political extremes can and do kill people. If we do not come out of this shared angst filled with a better and more compassionate understanding of our fellow citizens (and non-citizens, documented or undocumented; i.e., human beings), then we can kiss our future and the futures of generations unborn, “Adios.”
Surely we can see from this collective experience the need for all people in the United States to have access to the following: 1) good healthcare, especially preventive healthcare, that is actually affordable, which points to some form of universal care; 2) affordable education of high caliber; 3) good jobs that pay a minimum living standard wage for those who are wage-earners in the lower strata; 4) voting, as guaranteed by our Constitution; 5) clean air and water; and, I will add, good, nutritional food and guidance on healthy eating and healthy lifestyles. I would also include in this “platform,” that the Federal government should also promote and support early childcare, as it is well documented that the preschool years can very well shape the potential of a person’s entire future. And no, I am not advocating for the Government to do all of this under its umbrella: it takes a village to care for a village. We need individuals to give and share what they can — a kind word and smile does wonders — and we need non-profits and “faith” groups to grow and continue to offer helping hands to those in need. Also, there are many who have enormous wealth, who do not contribute much, if any, of their bounty to charity: they need to change! Between the Government and non-governmental entities there is abundant space for those of all political persuasions — those who care about their fellow human beings — to find ground to cooperate!
I have spoken already of the need for better healthcare for all, but without good educational opportunities we cannot grow adults prepared to assume productive roles in the future of our Country. Today a large number of urban and rural schools are worse off than they were decades ago. How can that be? The plethora of reasons have been laid out in countless studies, reports and books, so this is no secret. We must invest in our public schools, and provide options for higher education!
A guaranteed minimum wage high enough to actually live on is a must. Otherwise we merely continue in the downward trend of social decay. The economy will adjust to setting a much higher minimum wage, just as it adjust to the inequitable tax structure favoring big business and the 1% who control most of the real wealth. I mean fair is fair, right?
So what I am saying is that without huge steps in the above direction we will just slowly sink in the shifting quicksand of anger, hatred and confusion, as racial and class disputes continue. Each day during this crisis offers an opportunity for changing ourselves, and such chances are usually few and far between, so now is the moment to grasp our better angels by the hand and rise!
I choose now to paint my visions of what a new and bright future could be. No one knows, of course, how our post-COVID-19 future will unfold, but I also believe that how we think, so it will be. So personally I choose not to think of our falling into a pit of cacophony. I have for the longest been a fan of “futurism,” and while science fiction has often been at the vanguard of speculating on the future, we would all be well advised to put on our futurist caps right now.
What lessons should we have learned from this ought to be a sound foundation for envisioning the future. For one, we have learned that pandemics are real, and in fact, will likely occur again and with increasing frequency unless we act to change the world we live in, and to prepare rationally.
The so-called Spanish flu was the last preceding true pandemic, killing millions across the globe in 1917, as troops returned to their homes after the end of WW1. A hundred years, but even more recently we have seen potential pandemics emerge, such as SARS, H1N1 and Ebola. All of these viruses are still “out there.” Perhaps those holding high political offices should be required when they take the oath of office, to also certify they watched the documentary film, The Coming Pandemic (2005) about the outbreak and response to the H1N1 virus. That film laid out a veritable road map that all those in high office, especially our Presidency, should have been acutely aware of. Now we all know, but how long is human memory of these events “on the ground”? In 7 years will be again be caught blindsided, blinded by our own selfish distractions?
Climate change without any doubt is playing a role in the rise of zoonotic viruses — those originating in the animal kingdom — transmitted to humans. These viruses are likely all around us, with the more “exotic” varieties against which the human body has no able defense lurking in animals that due to climate change human populations are coming into more frequent and close contact with. Then there is also the penchant or affinity some groups or societies have to use trade and market in wild animals, including bats and pangolins, to name just a few. Both of these animals have a specific role in nature, a vital role of its own accord, yet as civilizations encroach further into forests, mountains and caves seeking to increase their farmlands or seeking food due to living in a “food desert,” suffering daily from hunger, humans as a species are at greater risk of being infected by viruses possibly carried by such animals.
Climate change, unarrested, with continue to drive humans deeper into areas of habitat of such species. Desperation to fill the bellies of their children will cause people in these border areas toward behaviors that portend danger for humanity at large.
Presently in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, around the world we see reports of clearing skies, clearing waters and animals “taking over” areas from which tourists have disappeared temporarily. Will people living in polluted cities around the world want to return to skies filled with nearly unbreathable air, smog so thick one cannot see but a few blocks? Or, will they rise up and demand and opt for changes in their economy that mitigate the return to the prior “normal” that diminishes the quality of their lives and their longevities. Will cities such as Venice, having seen clear waters in their streets instead of the fouled, polluted tides, decide something has to be done? While we do not know the answers to such questions, my guess is that there will be a growth in environmental populism, and representatives of concerned masses will fight even harder against those in power who seek only the profits of the status quo.
A large chunk of those profits has for over one hundred years come from oil. As I write this the world is “awash” in oil figuratively, due to a recent price war between foreign suppliers and the absolute dearth of any demand resulting from the pandemic. A barrel of oil is many times less expensive at this moment than a barrel of a well-known hand sanitizer.
And, on our streets and freeways, with scant traffic as I write this, become something to be wished for in the future strongly enough to encourage modern mass transit, electric vehicles and other reachable technologies of travel? But then, do we need to travel like we did before, or can we not envision continuing to work from home as much as possible, telecommute, for those who mainly sit at computers all day long. Will such professions as call centers and “help desks” become all distributed, staffed by employees working in their jammies at home? I think that is likely — or staffers may also find their jobs taken by artificial intelligence pumped into sweet talking “computers.”
Out of this nexus, this crossroads where we are bound together right now, it is surely predictable that tremendous opportunities will spring forth for computer and telecommunications and media applications created by young geeks that correctly perceive new needs and jump to fill these. This will create an entire new segment to the world economy, and facilitate efficient small businesses, and large ones as well.
One sure prediction of the future, is that there will be an acceleration of what was already happening at a dizzying speed, the replacement of human workers with robotics and artificial intelligence. Robots and machines and computers programs running in the “cloud” do not transmit virus, do not get sick (at least from biological viruses) and do not require healthcare premiums. It is clear to anyone critically analyzing this phenomenon and its effects on our workforce, that only government action can provide robust programs to retrain and re-purpose those of us who are kicked off the lot by robots. A major program will be needed to do this. The solution in my mind is that the brightest future for a large number of these people is to help set them up in small businesses, where they can utilize the combination of past skills and knowledge bolstered by training in using robotics and technology appropriate for their type of business.
It should be obvious also that the very structure, financially and particularly operationally/physically, of many industries will change. Whether its food processing plants or nursing homes, it is apparent that changes will have to be made, either voluntarily or by fiat. Nursing homes have long been the perfect examples of the recipe for disease disasters, and the thousands of deaths we are seeing now should be caveat enough for how we house and care for elders and the infirm in the future.
So healthcare will continue to be the most debated topic along with climate change until serious changes are made for the better. We have created in the USA industries — healthcare and insurance — that thrive on us getting sick, whereas a legitimate healthcare system would focus on prevention of disease. Also with all people having access to high-speed internet, the opportunity for doctors and patients to interact virtually is infinite!
So which way will America tilt? Falling back to the extremes of prior failures — the catalyst for this mess — or forward to a highly positive, socially responsible future? God forbid that we be mired in the sticky remnants of politics and the struggles pitting the selfishness of the haves against the aspirations of those who are fed up with being trodden upon? While a case can be made for such a state of social affairs being a permanent condition of humankind, I would like to think we can find a better way once we come through this catastrophe.
April 25th, during my writing this book, I attended the “virtual” birthday party of my oldest god-granddaughter, who as I have said earlier, lives with her younger sibling and parents in Harlem, NYC. She turned 3. I turned 74, as she was my own birthday gift three years ago — the best gift ever! Her party was attended in a “Zoom” session, with around 20 participants from across the United States, from East to West Coasts, Texas and likely one or two whom I do not know. While in my career days I have been on many conference sessions, this was definitely a first, and a first for my granddaughter as well. She seemed to thoroughly adjust, but I could see a bit of bewilderment at seeing adults and kids, a few kids she likely had not seen since they moved back to Harlem from a couple of years in Oakland, California. But in her eyes I saw the beginning of a new world, one that will keep friends together and close no matter how far away they are physically. If I live long enough I hope to see her graduate from high school, but if I do no doubt it will be a virtual experience for me.
The fact is that we in the United States and in many parts of the world will consciously, and subconsciously, adjust to the new realities of life on a planet where we have to acknowledge we are living in a myriad of microscopic bacteria and viruses, contact with which will be increasingly common, so we will have to adapt in many ways in order to minimize the ill effects we could experience; i.e., more epidemics and pandemics. Social distancing or at least social distancing awareness will become embedded in our psyche over time, reinforced by our occasional witnessing of the consequences of carelessness. We will think about who we kiss on the cheeks (please, no lips!), who we hug and how we hug. We will also learn to do a better job of hygiene, sanitizing, washing and watching where we put our bare hands. I have seen over my years, as the reader no doubt has, people who do not observe even basic sanitation, which I find perplexing: such as not washing their hands before leaving the restroom, or coughing into their hand right before reaching out to shake another’s hand. Out of this discipline of sanitizing and respecting others’ space, perhaps we will slowly become more conscientious. I expect many will continue to wear masks and disposable gloves when in public places, especially on mass transit and at many events, although events and venues themselves will very likely undergo radical new design concepts (the increased cost to attendees at sports and concerts will result in fewer persons attending, which will drive the virtual viewing market). The future of sports and concerts will no doubt be impacted in novel ways, as a balance is sought between revenue and public health.
One thing we can be certain of, is that there are other, perhaps many other, viruses out there which will rise under conditions conducive to their multiplication and transmission. The social mentality of we humans must adapt to living within scientifically — and spiritually — derived guidelines. A new ethos will evolve and prevail, as the will to survive in Homo sapiens is strong. We must reconnect with Nature and recognize our common humanity. No longer can we abide borders that separate us as creatures of Creation, all with the same Mother.
We are living right now at a time when science and technology can take us collectively to any level, in any direction we choose. What impedes us is our will, influenced by our values and beliefs, and these are driven by a network of education, religion and politics. Hatred, anger and confusion, and predominantly the absence of patience, are the ingredients that can stymie our progress toward a brighter future. Sadly, these can only be changed at the person level, one by one, but I do believe that the present pandemic is teaching us all an important lesson. Mother Nature’s school class is not yet over, so those who believe they can “play hooky” until the virus magically goes away, will be in for a hard lesson.
Out of the COVID-19 human disaster, each of us who survives, meaning most of us, should feel that we have been given a new lease on life, but one with strings tied to it. We are literally made from stardust, and the beginnings of that dust are some 40-billion years old. Sprinkled and mixed in our dust is the Spirit that gives us eternal being. Knowing that we are Eternal and have countless lives yet to live — my belief — let us not worry about the future, but rather be in the present, and live each moment to its fullest, with love, not anger. It is ok for us to feel confused at this time, but we must realize this too will pass, and abide in the joy of small things today. Tomorrow will take care of itself. So we all just need to breathe, and smile into our soul.