And now as long as space endures,
As long as there are beings to be found,
May I continue likewise to remain
To drive away the sorrows of the world.
—Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva
I think it is important to continue to write these journal entries. It will be good to have something to look back on once all of this is over.
Today I did another of the COVID walks I have been doing for the last month. It was a long one – over 8 kilometres. I have a constant companion, our dog Dory who patiently goes on these treks no matter what the weather is like.
I almost always take photos on these walks and post them on Instagram and Facebook. The photos mirror a bit my mood on these long walks – thoughtful, a little sad, taking in the stillness.
Today I listened to a Pema Chödrön talk called Walking the Walk: Putting the teachings in practice when it matters most. I have included the first nine minutes of her talk here. The quote at the beginning of this post comes from this talk and is repeated by the participants in this retreat at the end of each session. In the passage, she talks about a young Buddhist monk who is told by his master that one day he would travel to teach people in North American. His mentor explains that there he will find people who will be much more interested in staying asleep than waking up.
This is a really good talk and I listened to it for the rest of my walk.
It does describe in some ways what I see going on right now. We are probably into the 10th week of the pandemic. The initial rush of ‘we are all in this together’ is now well over. The crisis is not nearly over, it is just morphing into a new and more challenging phase.
The violence and protests in the United States are part of this pandemic. The growing anger I see on social media is part of this too. The uncertainty about what the future holds now is a big part of what the pandemic looks like.
The uncertainty about what the school year will look like in September is palatable. While large events continue to get cancelled right up to and past next September what will schools look like? Already many universities are saying that classes will be online. There are new webinars offered almost daily by my university on how to adapt courses to an online environment.
What will elementary and secondary school look like in September? We do need to do some waking up as suggested by Pema Chödrön. The pandemic is here to stay for the foreseeable future. The initial rush is over, we are now in this for the very long haul and we need to open our eyes to this reality. I don’t think we are talking about this enough, maybe we need another few sleeps.
Many experts say that things really won’t change until there is a good treatment or a vaccine. Vaccines take years to make and many are only partly successful. The disruptions that we are experiencing now many lift, but only temporarily. Last week, one infected doctor in New Brunswick was able to expose over 150 people to the virus and effectively shut the province down again. (New Brunswick copes with return to lockdown after increase in COVID-19 cases – Globe and Mail, Monday, June 1)
It only takes one person to lock us all down again.
Wake up Wake up! We are in this for a very long time and we all need to start looking at how we are going to live in a very new world.
Schools have to look at how they are going to structure things to reopen in September. They will need a better plan than what we have seen in Quebec where schools with an outbreak close for two days, clean up and go at it again.
Wake up Wake up! We need to see our world with new eyes. Every sector of our society has to change. We need to start asking ourselves some very hard questions. From what I have seen, we are not doing this.
Cycling back to the violence in the States, this lack of awareness is limiting our deeper understanding of the swirling crisis that envelopes us. John Doyle writes about all-news coverage in the United States
When is the real life of American cities covered? Where is the punditry and analysis of the vast racial disparity in health and wealth? What this current crisis illuminates is all-news TV’s preference for extolling itself. It’s not the real basis for the protests and riots that matter, it’s the alleged bravery of its peacocking reporters on the inflamed streets.
Are we fit to understand and really grasp the depth of the crisis that we are in? Are any of us taking the long view on this or are we still trying to sleep through this by finding more and more distractions?
Maybe we all need to take a very long walk, listen to Pema Chödrön and start the process of waking up to this new and daunting reality. It’s not going anywhere soon.