One of the “Game of Thrones” episodes and/or “A Song of Ice and Fire” characters has a religious mantra of “The night is dark and full of terrors.” My soul is feeling lately that this applies to the world itself. From a pandemic to economic and political unrest, everywhere I turn is something new and horrible. The Midwest and the South devastated by weather, the West on fire (again), and everything is in constant flux. It’s one thing to have a personal roller-coaster, but another to have a national one!
So what’s a person to do? When everything is out of control, how do I plan or accomplish anything? Where do I put myself besides in my bed, depressed?
In the above, I addressed the what, where, when, and how, but I did not ask who and why. That’s because they are the answer to the rest.
I have seen a million ads with “in these trying times…” “this unprecedented situation…” and, of course, “we’re all in this together.” And we are, even if it makes me think of this:
We as humanity keep fighting amongst ourselves, never recognizing the commonalities and only focusing on the differences. But for once, JUST ONCE, we all have something in common. This pasty white, English-speaking, American woman is experiencing the same pandemic as a beautifully dark-skinned, Hausa-speaking boy in Niger. Should we ever meet, we would have that shared experience.
One day, people will probably ask about each other’s 2020, the same way my parents’ generation can discuss where they were when Kennedy was shot, or my generation about the explosion of the Challenger, or pretty much everyone over 19 about 9/11. The world will have this moment to recollect, to share, from which to build relationships. It’s odd but tragedies and sorrows tend to unite us more as humankind than any other experience.
As I write, my friend is desperately trying to travel here to see her dying mom, who is on a ventilator and whose condition is “incompatible with life.” My husband lost his mom last year, so his first instinct is “How can we help?” He identifies with this situation. He shares this experience and, somehow, helping bear someone else’s burden just a little bit eases his burden slightly as well.
THIS is the “why” we get up every day and keep pushing through. We are made for community, for sharing life together in small and in big ways. The how, what, where, and when are dictated by the needs of the community (including ourselves) around us, so there’s no one-fits-all-size answers. The “why” is “for each other.”
Yes, the world is dark and full of terrors. Let’s hold hands and fight through them together.