Today marks the 608th day of life under quarantine since day 1 of the government’s official lock-down. Unlike the usual humdrum days of the stay-at-home quarantine, this morning, however, I was pleasantly awakened by the cool breeze of the northeast winds – the amihan. Notably, it infused in my spirit an aura of optimism. Come to think of it, in the Philippines, the season of amihan normally presages the end of the hot, humid, and wet season of habagat – the southwest monsoon. The amihan ushers in the best season of the year, characterized by cool and clear days ahead till May. Could this season of amihan be the harbinger of good things to come?
On a corollary note, the whole of Christendom eagerly awaits the onset of the Advent season. Like the amihan, the Advent season heralds a season of joy and optimism as people await the coming of the child Jesus on Christmas day. Interestingly, the confluence of the amihan and Advent at this time may augur well as the harbinger of good things ahead.
A Second Choice
Given that this pandemic crisis has chronically battered the physio-socio well-being of society for almost two years, the onset of the seasons of Advent and the amihan certainly provides a welcome relief, specially, to those affected. Indeed, it gives reason for one and all to hope for a better future. As we prepare for the new normal, it would do well to take note of the exhortation of the great statesman, Winston Churchill:
“If I had to live my life over again in the same surroundings, no doubt I should have the same perplexities and hesitations; no doubt I should have my same sense of proportion, my same guiding lights, my same onward thrusts, my same limitations. And if these came into contact with the same external facts, would I not run in fact along exactly the same grooves? Of course if the externals are varied, if accident and chance flow out through new uncharted channels, I shall vary accordingly. But then I should not be living my life over again. I should be living another life in a world whose structure and history would to a large extent diverge from this one.”Winston S. Churchill, “A Second Choice” Essay, 1937
In short, if one were to examine Churchill’s advice and try to adapt it to the current pandemic, the sound thing to do is not to live the same life over again. The pandemic crisis has changed the game. We need to adapt the “second choice”, that is, to live another life in a world that cries out for a new paradigm: respect for human dignity & ecology, good governance, social responsibility, fraternity, and solidarity for the common good. In other words, we need to re-define a new culture and a new way of living in accord with the dictates of the post-COVID world.
The Folly of Dreams
It is quite apparent that the industrial revolution of the last century and the recent information technology boom have exacerbated the widening income gap between the first-world countries and the rest of the world. Whilst innovation and technology have succeeded in sending men to the moon, on the one hand, it seems ironic that, on the other, the rising levels in global hunger and poverty have yet to be licked.
Whilst dreams may provide the impetus for defining a new life, prudence would dictate that the same be properly grounded on the exigencies of the situation. On this note, St. Josemaria gives a forewarning not to fall into the folly of dreams, as follows:
“What a sublime way of carrying on with your empty follies, and what a way of getting somewhere in the world: rising, always rising simply by ‘weighing little’, by having nothing inside – neither in your head nor in your heart!”St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, 41
Faith as the Bed-Rock of the New Order
In the past 20 months, we have witnessed the socio-economic devastation inflicted by the pandemic crisis. It has exposed the vulnerabilities of man and societal structures. In order to move ahead well into the future, one would need to go back to the roots of faith. Providentially, St. Paul provides an insight on how to navigate the future with greater resiliency.
“Since we are justified by faith, let us enjoy peace with God through Our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access, by faith, to that grace in which we stand and we rejoice in the hope of attaining glory as the sons of God. More than that, we rejoice even in our afflictions, knowing well that affliction gives rise to patience, and patience brings perseverance, and perseverance brings hope, and this hope does not disappoint us: for the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.”Romans 5:1-5, NABRE