Thoughts on the end of another Plague Year

They are receding — not rapidly enough, but they are receding:  Fear and Rage, the two toxic emotions that have inundated us and almost overwhelmed our sense of common humanity for the last two years.

It is a great irony that the fear, caused primarily by this pernicious, ever mutating virus, is a perfect metaphor for the political rage that has turned America (and much of the developed world) into a cauldron of grievance:  it destroys from within and calms momentarily, only to flare up again in unexpected places and ways.

The question we are now facing is whether our gradual acceptance of this situation is an indication of meaningful adaptation or merely a sign of fatigue.  Have we changed in any way for the better, or are we merely keeping our heads down in hopes that we will soon be able to raise them and everything will be the way it once was?

The truth is, things aren’t going to be the way they were.  We may well be watching some Malthusian rough beast slouching across the planet cutting a swath through the human race.  We certainly are seeing a level of political unrest and division that in the past has been the precursor to unthinkable armed conflict. Whatever is happening, in Yeatsian terms, the center cannot hold.

It is naive and dangerous to pretend that we are not in some transformative time and that things will all settle down “to normal”.  Foundational change is all around us. We need to accept this and manage it to the best of our limited human capabilities.  We can lean into large forces with such tools as we have; we cannot control them.

I think we need to start it two places, one micro and one macro.  The children and the planet.  Right now I’m thinking about the children.  They have spent two years living behind masks, have heard outrage spewed from their parents’ lips, whether from the left or the right, have become socially feral, and have come to think that what they see on a screen is both truer and more real than what they see in the world around them.

It is easy to see the pathologies in these conditions.  But we need to see the larger opportunities they contain:  the power of immediacy and connectivity, the awareness that there are larger forces than the human and the self at play in our lives, the fact that there is such a thing as common humanity and that we are, in some way, all in this together.

Can we build an educational model around this?  Can we take the rough clay of these misshapen times and somehow form it into something new and positive for the children?  Their world already looks nothing like our world, and we should not pretend that it will in the future.  We need to somehow give them tools to shape whatever it is their eyes are seeing.

But most of all we need to educate their hearts.

We need to teach them a way of seeing the world that is not grounded in fear and outrage.  We need to teach them that the past is not about nostalgia or something that is lost, so much as it is about gaining insight into how to shape a meaningful response to the future.

Yes, there are absolutes. There are the residues of goodness built into the species over the generations. There is kindness; there is family; there is a sense of mystery and awe in the face of the infinite.  There is nothing wrong with the many iterations of the Golden Rule.

I don’t think we really understand what it will take to make educated children.  But we know what it takes to create good children, kind children, creative and curious children.  That should be our task. We need to forget our petty adult adult intramural grievances or, at least, hold them temporarily at bay.  If we do that, the fear and outrage may recede on their own.  I’ve said it enough times that it has become tiresome to repeat it.  But Sitting Bull had it right:  “Come, let us put our minds together to see what kind of lives we can create for our children.”

Put that in your heart moving forward, and let us bid goodbye to the wearying, challenging, and troubling plague year of 2021.


13 thoughts on “Thoughts on the end of another Plague Year”

  1. Yes!, Kent! The children. The glory and hope I find these days is when I bake cookies… with my grandchildren, listening carefully to their dialogue with me and what I ‘overhear’ as they chatter among themselves. I hear kindness and good hearts, intertwined with anticipation of the unpredictable. I hold them close, and share my confidence in them to make good choices and to reach out in love.
    Yes…let’s put the best we have together for our children…that they may experience Joy.

  2. Putting our minds together is a wonderful concept, but easier said than done. Sitting Bull WAS right. If we approach the future with kindness for all children, we may have a chance.

  3. Wise.words….as always…here is my fear….after coaching for 30 years…I realized…I never had a problem with a player we couldnt resolve….the problems that persisted were adult driven…I could dump bunch of 12 yearold on a pitch…give them a ball…walk away…. and given enough time…they’d have teams.. rules…scores and resolve issues….so long as no adult was there…throw parents in….and it may run fine….or not…had to break up a fust fight between a mother and daughter….the point being….I think the children are far more resilient than we big folk…may give them credit for….they are capable. …without our bad examples or interference

  4. James Baldwin once said: “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”

    Ann Culter

  5. Thank You Kent, Always.

    Yes, we can build an educational model for our children in these Apocalyptic Times.

    It’s not much different than when Jesus came 2,000 years ago. Could this be the time of His return, to help us, again?

    It will begin with us so-called adults in caring for what we feel and experience. Children can’t care for their stress, pain, hurt, fear and anger if we don’t. We all have wounds, issues, demons and desires to be aware of and take time with. The Lord will help if we ask.

    Prayer and Meditation has always given us “a sense of mystery and awe in the face of the infinite.”

    “Prayer is when we talk to God. Meditation is when God talks to us.” If one can be still as in Psalm 46:10.

    Jung saw how this is true with any spirit-element of our being as seen in dreams we may need to talk with, too.

    I’m blessed with grandchildren who make me take quiet time when I get so upset and can’t back off.

    There are healthier ways of venting by seeing the underlying issues. Knowing we are loved especially helps.

    We never need to feel bad. These moments happen. But we can learn from them, with the Lord’s help.

    Blessings Always, Kent.

  6. Hmmmm, many thoughts. I am weary of Covid, but my Husband and I had been vigilent over the past 2 years. Yes, we are forced to live in this new “watch out” culture. We have avoided people and gatherings, and our relationships. 11 days ago, my husband passed away unexpectedly. Our rituals are to gather, console, and celebrate a life at a time like this. I was SO careful, and only allowed Safe people in my space…very few. Yet still , was exposed and tested positive for Covid last week. Light symptoms, very grateful for vaccinations and boosters. I have survived. But…How do we do our revised love, ritual, and really turning points in this new reality? ways of being with each other, mourning, celebrating, and caring for others take on a different look. It is not just a loss of a few months or years, we are shifting how we relate to others, and not sure we can recover…how do we shift to a different way to relate?
    This may be grief talking, but tender connected togetherness really does matter.

  7. I appreciate your concern for the children. As a recently retired pediatrician that was my field of work for over 40 years. I am likewise worried about their exposure to such toxic behavior exhibited by adults over the last few years. We are their example and they look up to us as models. It behooves us to try to reconcile our differences and show the young ones the proper path.

  8. Good Morning Kent, I like many others hope the plague is coming to an end, but I feel it will always be with us, like Winter flu. The last two years have left many of us so depleted of energy and happiness. We are still wearing masks when out in crowds, and our British weather doesn’t help us. The nights are growing lighter and this gives us joy as Spring will arrive shortly. Not everything is gloom I have had another great grandaughter, who I haven’t seen yet. thank goodness for the internet. my older grandaughter graduated just before christmas which also was a joy. So I am going to stop grumbling and get on with life. I do not know why I have written such a weird letter to you, but I felt you would understand. All Best wishes to you and your family and friends. Take care,

    Anne Murray UK

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