Today, being the first year anniversary of this blog site is a special day of thanksgiving. Because of the COVID-19 Lockdown in March 2020, I decided to pre-empt the onset of fear and anxiety by creating this blog site – the Quarantined Wayfarer. My goal was to give hope to wayfarers as a way to combat uncertainty: the greatest enemy of mankind today.
Looking back, I distinctly remember describing how grim the situation was in April last year. In an article entitled “Do Not Be Afraid”, I wrote: “It is as if in one fell swoop, all the dreams of humanity have been snatched by the COVID 19 pandemic. Everyone is cowering in fear, given the looming darkness of uncertainty.”
Yet, despite the passage of one year, the dark clouds of the global pandemic still cast their shadows of gloom and doom upon the whole of humanity. Perhaps, it would make sense to focus on the greatest enemy of mankind today, that is, uncertainty itself.
Life was Simpler
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, life was much simpler to manage. As a way of coping with problems, some people would concern themselves with proven remedies to take control of everything that confronts them. In their minds, they would try to remedy the situation by applying their gut instincts in fending off the imminent dangers facing them. Back then, life was simpler; hence, it was much easier to secure life’s happiness and well-being.
Today, however, we are living in a “VUCA” world. Everyday, we need to cope with this highly dynamic situations that may be volatile, uncertain, complex and/or ambiguous. There is no guarantee that what used to work before will work today.
Moreover, we are in the midst of an epochal change which has been ushered in by information technology and the internet. Given the plethora of information being bombarded upon us by social media, there is need to filter out false or fake news and focus on the veritable facts – the truth. By focussing on the truth, it would be a lot easier to combat the greatest enemy of mankind today: uncertainty.
Love for the Truth
Back in the late 30’s, the young priest, Josemaria Escrivá, would often counsel his friends with the virtue of love for truth. In his classic book, The Way, he gives his bold and daring remarks, as shown in point no. 34, as follows:
“Don’t be afraid of the truth, even though the truth may mean your death.”St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, 34
At first glance, the above prescription may sound too radical i.e. suggesting “martyrdom”. In Josemaria’s mind, however, he simply suggests a piece of practical advice for use in this VUCA world.. With the advent of the internet, social media has taken center stage in our lives. It brings to bear myriads of information i.e. new ideas, beliefs, ideologies, remedies, etc., at the flick of the fingertips. Given the ubiquity of mobile phones, curiosity or inordinate inquisitiveness have created a new malady, that is, screen addiction. For the young and the gullible, such unfettered access to the internet could obviously expose them to psychological problems. Undoubtedly, modern technology brings with it some unintended consequences: the danger of falling prey to cyber-predators. Hence, given the plethora of cybercrimes, there is an over-arching need to exercise prudence and greater circumspection in managing day-to-day situations or events influenced by so-called social media.
Need for Critical Thinking
Furthermore, given the complexity of this world, there is a greater need to acquire skills, especially, critical thinking. Interestingly, Bertrand Russel, a renowned British philosopher, and Nobel laureate, once gave a piece of advice on critical thinking, namely:
“When you are studying any matter or considering any philosophy ask yourself only what are the facts and what is the truth that the facts bear out. Never let yourself be diverted either by what you wish to believe or by what you think would have beneficent social effects if it were believed, but look only and surely at what are the facts. That is the intellectual thing that I should wish to say.”Bertrand Russel, Interview by “Face to Face”BBC, 1959
Inspired by the Truth
Interestingly, despite the onslaught of fear & anxiety caused by the pandemic, there is nonetheless a ray of light – hope on the horizon. In particular, it is heart-warming to see, practically everywhere, ordinary people working hard, risking their lives and limbs to serve society. Unfazed by the risks, these ordinary folks do their jobs simply because they are inspired by their own beliefs: the truth. These are the frontline workers – nurses, grocery helpers, drug store personnel, plumbers, etc.- who serve society as the new modern-day heroes of COVID times.
Indeed, there is reason to have hope. If one really tries to look hard at the horizon, one will discover the place where heaven and earth meet. When you are feeling down and weary, spend some time watching out for this ray of light on the horizon. This marvel of sunrise would certainly uplift your soul; thereby, giving you a reason to wake up each day with renewed hope for your dreams.
Love of God
In closing, whilst the scourge of this COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is good to know that the love of God shines through. Through his passion, death, and resurrection, Jesus Christ has opened up for the whole of mankind the floodgates of love and mercy. Hence, it gives us reason to hope for a brighter and better future. All that he expects of us is our humble and honest acceptance of the truth. After all, Jesus loved us first and died for our redemption. If you want to be happy, follow him.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”John 14:6 NABRE