I blink and for a moment the strange feeling of it all being a dream passes over me. Could it be possible that my normal everyday world can have been turned into this reality?
The stores are running out of things rapidly, the news gets grimmer every time I look, which is far too often, but far less often than I am tempted to look. The scenarios playing out in speculation could rival anything a Steven—Spielberg or even King—-has to offer. My just-finished novel, about an evil master-mind who duped the entire world into believing a mutated nanobe would destroy all life, seems either stupid or outdated.
I pray. I think. I go about my normal everyday activities as much as possible but it is only a Sunday, and what will Monday bring? A never-before-imposed travel ban, a directive from the President, is shocking, and from the governor the schools are closed. Then comes the prohibition of public gatherings, and gasp—closing of bars! Since Prohibition that hasn’t happened. But this is no fun-squashing attempt to keep us moral, this could be life or death for some of us. Our fellow human beings are suffering in ways we can’t imagine. It is hard to gain clarity, to see the whole picture. Hard not to argue about how we should proceed. Hard not to read the arguments developing all around me on social media. I have a deep conversation with my family which reaffirms our love for each other but also deepens my questions. Either the world is going to hell in a handbasket, or it thinks it is, and is acting accordingly. Either one is not pretty.
Not worried for myself I want to fight against the power grab, to second guess motives, to be angry. Then I remember, again, this is about others. And I do care. Toilet paper is not on the list of essentials, no matter how refined we moderns are, we will learn this, if only the hard way.
How many times have we had the nightmare whispered into our souls? ‘Life is not as easy as it seems.’ ‘The other shoe will drop.’ You are not a chosen few.’ We heard it coming in a hundred ways, in the obsession with apocalyptic narratives like Zombies, in the protests of the young people on the streets against greedy Capitalism, in the documentaries of wars and pestilence so far removed from us we watched idly, in the words of Jesus, “In this world you shall have tribulation,’ but we didn’t really listen.
We are listening now. Every nerve strains to pay attention. Now is not the time for slumber. Nor is it the time to lose our heads. God, you’re playing it pretty rough. What are we to learn from this? How can we emerge better, stronger, more courageous and most importantly a humbler people than we have been?
Time will tell.