It was a rough year, and the time isn’t up yet. How will we know when the pandemic is over? Good question, one that will see many answers, but hopefully not too many false finishes resulting in further irresponsible deaths from maskless wonders and “it wasn’t real” hard cases. (A girl can dream.)
Perhaps the biggest question is not “when will we get back to normal” but “how can I help now that so many people have gotten hurt?” Those harms will linger, be they financial or family loss.
Friends in mixed circles of right-wing-first Christianity worried about The Great Reset, an idea pushed by a billionaire with a big mouth but not a lot of influence. He said now was the time to rearrange society along more equitable and sensible lines, do away with cash, globalize in governance as well as markets, and other things that set the heads of apocalyptic-prone thinkers spinning.
The Great Reset isn’t gonna happen, because politicians understand: why fix society when you can make a LOT of money prolonging its problems? But can we have a whole lot of small resets? My priorities changed this year, some for the better. I’m praying for guidance on how to re-enter, and the wisdom to know what to keep, what to alter in the new habits I’ve learned from this year. We are reopening a world that won’t so much be even a new normal as a rag-tag amalgam of people who just want it all to go back to the way things were–many of whom were forced into new ways of living–and people who used this time for a small reset. Oh brave new world, to have such diversity in it. Help me learn to value, honor, and uphold the rights and needs of everyone in it, Jesus. I’m listening. Of all the things You have ever redeemed, let pandemic time be one of them, so the lessons learned aren’t wasted within those who learned them.
This year taught the difference between privilege and guilt. I had money and a continuing job working odd hours, which gave me options for taking up new leisure crafts like decoupage (which has become my new thing). I didn’t have child responsibilities and I own land, so became a whiz bang grow-your-own and then preserve it by canning. I discovered how much I enjoyed these activities. Guilt over privilege at these options, no; responsibility for having them, yes. Giving away food and (decoupaged) furniture. Writing the book about Conspiracy Theory came from a sense of accountability: I knew people who knew a lot about the subject, and we had access to publishing. Time to offer back. Which can sound conceited, but it’s also what you’re supposed to do. If you know what’s going wrong, say so. If no one listens, you did the right thing. If a lot of people listen, you did the right thing.
I remember watching a reporter and a photographer who covered the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, showing photos to a small group of New York City attendees at a posh bookstore. The reporter said something about going out to the valley after the battle for the photos and on the way back to the hotel getting stuck in traffic and sweating so bad she couldn’t keep her headscarf on, etc. Joking with the assembled listeners. A woman wrapped in a beautiful shawl in the air conditioned room stood to ask, after all this horror how can you joke, how can it be just a job to you?
The reporter had clearly been asked this before. She said, in essence, I have to have a life. I share what I know as a surrogate for others who will never walk into these situations, and when that is done my job is done. I don’t live my life in guilt that I’m not one of those bodies; I do make sure people understand any one of us could have been one of those bodies.
This affected me. Guilt is tiring for the person who carries it and of no comfort to those who need things. It is a useful fake virtue signal among people who want to push agendas. As the slow reopening unfolds around us I am asking Jesus to guide me in life, responsibility, and ignoring fake signals in favor of the true, small reset opportunity before me. That is all.