I dwell in the both/and. Like many folks, news of the cornonavirus shapes the day, mostly emptying it, which gives me time to ruminate. As I ate lunch today, I began thinking about all the beings who made my vegan club sandwich, chips, a pickle and a clementine (and limeade and seltzer) possible. The only way I could eat that delicious meal is because more humans than I can probably count willingly got up and worked at job that for some was probably not very gratifying. Someone picked that clementine, the tomato and the pickling cuke (and the lime in the drink). Someone harvested the wheat in my bread, the soybeans and vital wheat gluten in the veggie-based bacon and Tofurkey slices. Lots more folks manufactured packaging and transported the food to market. And of course the plants made it all possible along with the sun, rain, soil, pollinators. You get the idea.
So when we find ourselves with cabin-fever, we can meditate on our meals and then we can remember Anne Frank and all the families who hid for months in cramped spaces during World War Two or we can recall Immaculee Ilibagiza who hid in a small bathroom for months during the Rwandan genocide. While some of us may risk the virus if we go out, they risked certain death if they left their hiding spaces.
I understand the coronavirus is both serious and for many-life-threatening and I recognize that its threat has occasioned among many a renewed sense of caring about and for each other. And while it would wreak some degree of havoc on this nation, that havoc is exacerbated by the systems we have in place such as an economy wherein most folks don’t earn enough to save regularly so they have no cushion for emergencies like this. Our willingness to cage people has led to cruel and unusual punishment where incarcerated people are literal captives to the coronavirus. Even our schools, where children typically sit for hours a day in close quarters instead of being able to spend more time exploring the rest of the world, have led to sudden chaos as educators and parents scramble to “educate via the internet.” In our disrupted schedules, and for some of us, our expanded stillness, maybe we can give thought to what kind of systems we want to replace. What kind of economies serve us? What matters most? And then, when we eat, we can take stock of ALL the beings who make every bite possible with their bodies and their labor. And when we step outside we can give thanks that outside our door is a virus not an enemy. Yes, this is hard and the trees, the sky, the waterways, our kindred animal beings are all breathing easier in our arrested state.
The earth invites us to listen.