By Dick Ramsdell
Whether we call ourselves Children of God. lost souls, homo sapiens, or simply human beings, there are almost 8 billion of us on the small ball in space which we call Planet Earth, and we make up a veritable playground for what has emerged as our universal enemy: The Virus.
It doesn’t care what country we live in, what our name is, what our title is, how much our family cares about us, how much money we have, what color we are, what we believe, what we’ve accomplished in our life, or what possibilities for life we hold. Each of us, all eight billion, equally, is simply a warm, moist target for this deadly, unseen foe. It is an equal opportunity assassin.
That’s what makes it so frightening. There are no air raid sirens, no planes or missiles overhead, no bombs bursting or artillery bombarding us. No ‘Other’, whom we can mobilize against and hate, and determine to defeat. In fact, the opposite; in many parts of the world there is simply silence. But the virus is there. And it’s in us. And we don’t know which of us is one of the ‘us.’
We can’t form armies, together, to go out and fight. Quite the opposite, the way to fight is not to congregate and organize, but to separate and assume, not that everyone else is the enemy, but that everyone else might unknowingly be a host to the enemy.
So the responsibility for winning this fight lies not with armies, and not with the range of people who have stepped up to the front line already, no matter what the risk; from doctors and nurses, to first responders, police and fire fighters, grocery workers, and all those folks who felt they have had to go to work in order to help their families survive.
The responsibility lies individually with us, the very us who may be the unknowing hosts.
And that responsibility is to continue to keep our distance. Until there is a vaccine, to keep our distance. Respectfully, knowing that others will view us as we view them, not personally dangerous, but as a potential carrier to be avoided.
As summer comes, and the world looks to be, especially on beautiful days, just as it was, it will be so tempting to forget, and assume that things are just as they were. They aren’t.
So, no more “it can’t happen to me.” No more foolish gatherings. No more protests. If for no other reason than to protect ourselves and our loved ones, while we remain emotionally connected we must stay physically separated. The virus cannot defeat our spirit. But it can defeat our bodies. That is the challenge. That is the war we are fighting. Until there is a vaccine, we can win.
Pastor Deborah Conrad of Woodside Church offered a response to this commentary, available here.
Longtime Flint resident Dick Ramsdell is a retired social studies teacher from the former Flint Central High School; he also is retired after a second career as manager of the Flint Farmers’ Market. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.