In the Meantime,
Feb 23, 2022 – from MI
Last week I wrote as Wendy got her chemotherapy. That’s always trying, but in winter and a pandemic it is even more so. This week I write as Russia invades Ukraine. The repercussions will further complicate our lives with financial turbulence and uncertainty. Sometimes it seems that something happens to keep us from getting back on our feet.
When Covid arrived two years ago, medical experts said that those with comorbidities were most at risk because they were less stable in the first place. I am wondering whether we should apply this idea to whole societies. More and more it seems to me that Covid made all our challenges – wealth disparity, racism, political polarization – worse. And not just in America. This has been a global disease and it has affected every nation.
Sadly, one outcome of this less stable world has been opportunism. Russia, itself challenged, saw an opportunity to exert force because Covid and politics had weakened European unity. In a sense, Russia is an opportunistic political infection, able to invade because defenses have been weakened by an actual virus. Here in the United States inflation will likely increase, stock prices slump, and political opportunists will see a chance to infect society with more anger and fear in an election year. Both are reprehensible and also inevitable in turbulent times.
The best response? Seek health. There will always be opportunistic infections – physical, political, financial, personal – people willing to take advantage of instability. But just as our bodies are better able to prevent them from getting ahead by being stable and strong, so our societies can withstand these inevitable assaults by being stable and strong.
Why tell you this here? Because one role of a religious community is to model social strength. Given a choice, people will choose a healthy community over an unhealthy one. Often, folks who come to you from other religious communities mention your kindness, a sign of spiritual health. You have faced challenges that threatened that health in the past, and prevailed because you were in good shape before they happened.
Building health is the best response to the threat of illness, and that applies from the personal to the political. Thus, while we must name the unhealthy aspects of our society, we have an equal duty to be healthy in the midst of illness. That’s not easy. But since when did we expect that spiritual health was easy? – FW