Towards the end of the Broadway show, Hamilton’s first act, when the colonists greet their victory, sings the cast the chorus that “the world has been turned upside down.” And if I remember correctly, King George strutted onto the stage shortly afterwards to remind the winners that the war part was easy. It is the government that is difficult. Like many of us, now in the fifth month of protection against corona viruses, have not looked up to the sky or told a friend that the world has really been turned upside down. It often seems that we have fallen and cannot get up. We don’t have a life-saving push button, this bad film is really true.
Now if you expect brilliant insight into how you can make sense of all of this, you will be disappointed. I mean you can find these “tips” anywhere on the Internet. They are all nice, have the truth in them and maybe can help you survive a day or two. In the end, however, like most things, we have to figure this out ourselves. We all have to admit that we live with an increased feeling of fear. I mean, media releases continue to let Boomer know that if we move too far from our comfort zone, are exposed, or forget to wash and disinfect, we are at serious risk of death. We are beginning to see the effects of our current state on mental health, and “post-pandemic stress syndrome” will find its way into the medical dictionary if it has not already been done. Add the effects of isolation and delayed / evicted grief that so many are experiencing to this post-pandemic syndrome, and we have a recipe for years of an anxiety-based society. Enlightened leadership will be required to lead us out of this “wrong” world.
There are no easy answers to all of this. Our generation, now between the mid-50s and 70s, remains vulnerable. We have reconnected with certain basics; the primacy of home and family and friends, and the power and necessity of community; be it personal or vritual. I have no doubt that the current scientific engagement will produce something for us, but we need patience and trust in their experience. We have learned that all the social divisions we live with – race, religion, etc. – have been created artificially for political and economic reasons. The virus doesn’t discriminate, why us? We have learned that there is enormous economic and social inequality in the country and that many have long chosen to ignore it or use it for political purposes. We have learned all of this in relation to life and death. Our current situation has taught us all of this. Can we drive these lessons forward? Will this Independence Day time be a real beginning of a new social awareness? Will these last months – and everything that has happened – be a new beginning for us? When the era of protection ends (and it will) in place, we can remember these lessons so that all members of society can seek protection in peace; or will we retreat to what was a year later and forget “what can be”? Our tradition reminds us that we are not committed to saving the world, but only our special part of it. Will our inheritance be justice and equality or withdrawal? This king was right, you know, it’s the government that’s hard. not just one country, but each of us.
Stay strong, stay safe, stay healthy.
Rabbi Richard F address
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