Whilst starting off on an upbeat note, the year 2021 unexpectedly turned out to be quite disastrous. It seemed that the pandemic had waned during the first few months of the year. However, towards mid-year, the country was hit by the resurgence of the more virulent Delta variant. Within months, as the situation improved, people were starting to look forward to the joyous season of Christmas. Life was back to normal, so it seemed. Finally, as we were about to cross the finish line, on the 16th of December, Typhoon Rai, a category 5 typhoon, inflicted damage in the Visayas and Northern Mindanao, rendering thousands of families homeless and without food and water. To top it all, the highly transmissible Omicron variant started spreading its swath in Metro Manila. Thankfully, however, we are now in 2022, a new year: a time for a new beginning.
We are still at war: A New Battle Plan
As the new year slowly unfolds, many are beginning to panic for fear of being infected by Omicron. Partly to blame, of course, is the excessive media hype of the Omicron infections. Let’s face it, the war we are fighting is essentially the same COVID pandemic albeit of a different variety. Hence, the protocols for health security still remain the same. The problem is that many have lowered their guards to the point of thinking recklessly that the war has been won. For example, during the advent season, many flocked to the shopping malls and restaurants. The majority of the families organized family reunions for Christmas and the New Year.
Now that we are in the new year, it’s a good time to remind ourselves that we are still at war. Hence, we need to stick to a battle plan, which should enable us to come out as winners after all. Simply put, whilst we are at the start of a new year, we need to consider a new beginning: a new life with dreams of a better post-COVID environment. Leaving behind the dark past, one begins to look at a brighter tomorrow. Indeed, with a spirit filled with hope, a new year is always the time for a new beginning.
Tribute to the Unsung Heroes
As one reflects on the 655 days that have transpired since the imposition of the first COVID lockdown, it is not an exaggeration to say that our world has seen the rise of negativity. In the world of social media, bitterness & hate have overwhelmed the good. There has been an unprecedented proliferation of ideologies advocating racism, violence; extremism, polarism, individualism, feminism, misogyny, homophobia, elitism, & populist movements. Indeed, it makes one worry about the future.
If there is one key takeaway that the COVID pandemic has brought to bear, it is this: despite all the negativity and the destruction, life goes on with many heroes passing by unnoticed. We see doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners doing their very best to save lives at the risk of losing their very own. Moreover, we witness the untiring efforts of essential workers – delivery boys, shop assistants, school teachers, priests, and nuns – giving their very best to sustain the needs of their fellow brethren. For these, we give thanks.
The Gift of Life
Amidst all the negativity we see around us, it is good to take a pause and look back at the origin of life: we have been gifted with life by the love of God. Consequently, the realization of this sublime truth alone should move one’s heart to gratefulness to almighty God. Hence, it should awaken the goodness in one’s heart to see the sufferings of one’s neighbors.
No man is an island. We are all interconnected.
As exemplified by the heroic deeds of the front-liners as mentioned above, we come to realize that no man is an island and that we are all interrelated. Consequently, this should move us to reflect on how we treat our neighbors. Do we take time out to communicate with our neighbors? Or, given our indifference due to self-centeredness, have we failed to hear the cries of our neighbors?
As we move into the tumultuous days of 2022, let us be inspired by the maxim of St. Josemaria Escriva on holy shamelessness. In simple terms, the modern-day saint wanted to exhort his interlocutors during the Spanish civil war from 1936 to 39 to remain steadfast in fighting for their dreams notwithstanding the difficulties and uncertainties of the times. At the core of it, we need to examine whether we are driven by love in our hearts.
“Use the polite excuse that christian charity and good manners require. But then . . . keep on going with holy shamelessness, without stopping until you have reached the summit in the fulfillment of your duty.”St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, 44