When facing the enemy during the Battle for Lake Erie, Oliver Hazard Perry dispatched, “We have seen the enemy and it is us.” Perry understood in no uncertain terms that the human condition is wrought with frailties and in times of war those frailties will come to light.
Great minds that have changed the world have confronted this idea. It is the very thing that makes philosophies. Some would argue that we are always working toward being actualized. Dr. Viktor Frankl says self-actualization is “poppycock” or words to that effect. “Meaning” is the key to survival. Self-actualization is aspirational whereas recognizing meaning is purposeful.
Whatever the case may be, we are facing ourselves in unusual ways.
In this time where we are stuck inside and delving into our own self-involvement, we are forced into facing things about ourselves we may not want to face. We are forced to face things about ourselves that we don’t like. We are forced to reconcile with those parts that we have avoided looking at due to our business interests or survival interests.
A good friend of mine once taught me, “Everything outs in life.” If we are not honest with ourselves, the lies we have created will be our undoing and will manifest in our actions. Wise words.
It begs the questions, “What are the lies you’ve been telling yourself? What are the truths you’ve been putting off exploring due to fear? What are the very things that have held you back from being true to the person you’ve been called to be?”
What an opportunity for growth. As I confront myself during Lent and challenge myself to see where I can improve, I am face to face with my own insecurities. I confront mortality and the fleeting nature of life when I consider how my actions may harm the ones I love. My decision to serve others may compromise the immune systems of those who have provided life and served me selflessly.
Those who fail to see this, need to reconcile with the morality of their actions. God bless the nurses and doctors and those who put themselves out there with an oath to serve.
I feel guilt having abandoned those people I’ve been serving and have considered myself a “nonessential” to physically serve while I continue to serve my students online mentally and spiritually.
I heard the news of a Lyft driver who begged people not to go out into public if you are sick. He was forced to work to make a living for his family. A passenger entered his car coughing and sickly. A week later the driver, a thirty-something father of two, was dead due to the coronavirus. Was this sick person self aware enough to take into account that he might be infecting someone who was needed?
I see these people who are considered “essential employees” at supermarkets helping us to take care of our basic food needs, and wonder how much they are being paid to be on the front lines. I think of people who are going to be losing their jobs as a result of this virus and may not return to work.
I think of people that are preparing food who do not have health care and are putting themselves out there. What will they do if someone in their family is sick? Will they have the money to attend to this or will they be another statistical fatality due to a utilitarian decision that is made by a doctor or nurse due to a shortage of respirators and masks?
Did the senator who was being tested really need to use the gym and jeopardize others? Did he ever consider that someone who was cleaning up after him might contract something if he, in fact, tested positive? The senator noted that he didn’t have the symptoms but was tested the day before. Being a doctor no less, one would wonder what he was thinking? He did test positive.
The president standing close to others when he is telling us to stand six feet apart, shaking hands when we are told to avoid touching others. The fact that the president doesn’t need to wear a mask, but is telling us we need to wear one, begs the question, “Does this guy think he’s superhuman and above falling ill to the virus?”
“Every knee will bend.” There are multiple instances where this phrase comes into play in scripture. This phrase tells us that we will have no choice but to face the unknown and reconcile with our feelings about where we are going.
Every time this idea of facing fear is mentioned, whether in scripture or literature, it brings with it a leap in attaining a new level of conscious awareness that there is something more.
As hard as it is, this quarantine that has been imposed on our society has afforded us the opportunity to see something more. It is a scary prospect to face the unknown, but historically speaking, the more we face those fears and demons that haunt us the better off we’ve become as a society.
The same is true for us. When we face the demons that have disrupted our lives for so long and worked through confronting them honestly, something great comes from it. Read any Eugene O’Neill play and one can see how this changes souls and disturbs the air in profound ways.
If we are truly honest with ourselves, we will see the flaws of our society and the neurosis that has created these problems. If we are honest with ourselves, we will see that leaders have failed us by telling us “do as I say, not as I do.”
We need to turn within, reflect on the deeper meaning of what life is to us and “Do as we say and say as we do.”