Covid-19 and the Spiritual Battle
The Covid-19 pandemic has suddenly brought to the fore our vulnerability, revealing the society’s bare belly that has placed all its hopes and trust in science and human possibility. It is a wake up call in a world where technology and general human advancement seems to present a “false reassurance” that we are in control. The pandemic presents an opportunity for humanity to re-appreciate that we need more than ourselves, and that there is another bigger being who we must place more trust in.
When our life seems so fragile, and the line between life and death through Covid-19 is so thin, we are bound to rethink the value and meaning of life. When we have witnessed amazing feats of sacrifice and heroism of frontline workers some of whom have paid the ultimate price, succumbing to the disease, we ask ourselves what worth is their sacrifice. Is it only for love of humanity, and is it a real cause worth giving your life for?
The sufferings of Covid-19 have many facets: The discomforts of the disease and experiences of loneliness; fear of the disease and the unresolved grief; stigma both when being treated and when returning to society. These situations have exposed the weakness of our society that has become too virtual, and yet immersed in materialism, so extreme in expressing emotions in texts and social buzz, and yet so shallow in friendship, empathy and solidarity.
We are in a society that is running on a desperately short supply of spirituality and the spiritual values or qualities, a society too shy to fall down in humble petition to God, and where that major essence of man, has slowly been shut down by greed, noise, ego and technology.
Covid-19 is, in essence, a “time-out’ moment to get our game back. A moment to get back to our real selves, as creatures of God, and each other’s brothers and sisters regardless of race, colour, tribe or religion. A moment to come down from our pedestals of gods, in order to recognize our God and creator and restore Him on His throne.
Covid-19 has tested the very core of our society. It has tested our patience, our sense of discipline, our social concern, our obedience, and our capacity to think of the others and protect them. These are all spiritual qualities of the true love of a real neighbour. Unfortunately, we have, by and large, failed. What seems to still move the larger part of us, is our own survival without caring for others. We focus on not getting infected with the virus, stigmatizing anyone with even a slight possibility of being sick. We wish the patients as far as possible from us, and even make no effort to charitably reach out to them.
If we want a more humane society that cares for one another, this script must change. Our society will be defined by spiritual and humane attributes, and by our mutual contribution to the common good, and not by technology and development. But is today’s man able to fathom this reality in an environment of self-cult and selfishness? This is the battle and the whistle of the Covid-19 pandemic. The spiritual battle must then be waged at the level of service, care, solidarity and concern for one another, not for personal gains but as a spiritually nourishing and edifying action.
The virtual world has taken hold of today’s society. We seem so close in communication yet so far from each other’s deeper feelings. Our strategy in this spiritual war must be to once more make people care for one another, in truth. Virtual philanthropy is soulless! Compassion with a human face is what is true humanity. We must give more space to God and to reflection in the buzz of every day. I only hope we can once more bring the pride of showcasing our beliefs in the public arena, so that we don’t hide our deeper feelings that define us.
Care for the sick, volunteerism, common prayers for those in difficulty, making people accept and learn from vulnerability, and emphasis that there is a Sovereign being, God, who is still in control of His creation is what society needs today. We must make being human (and therefore vulnerable) acceptable, and in this context, we need each other’s assistance and God’s help.
For those in despair, things may look desperate and hopeless. However, it is when we seem broken that we can better appreciate the blessings God has given us. We must grow in resilience through hardship, but without being ashamed of accepting the situation we are in. I specifically encourage that we reach out to others, not so much to beg, as to find new areas of engagement. I was most impressed by the business man who had a school with an immense debt burden, and has turned the classrooms into a chicken farm. Others have reverted to the basics of subsistence farming to sell sukuma wiki. Nothing is too lowly, get on with a small idea and grow it. Finally, don’t ever forget that we are in all this with Our God who will see us through.
Archbishop of the Catholic Diocese of Nyeri and Chair of the Interfaith Council