by Fr F. Onyango IMC
Many people the world over seem to speak the same language especially when it comes to lockdown. Suddenly people have all the time in their hands that they no longer know what to do with time. Staying at home has now brought boredom, frustrations, fear, anger and uncertainty to many people. Some families are already experiencing tension and violence even as some marriages collapse as people struggle with the challenges brought about by the Corona virus. Nobody knows with certainty what will happen next. There is a myriad of questions brought about by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic; questions whose answers are as uncertain as the future itself. Questions like, when will the church be open? Will life get back to normal? How safe are we outside there? How long will the lockdown last? What will happen to our studies? What about the exams and what of our graduations? Will we still get our jobs back?
There are a lot many more who see the current situation like music that has only been paused, and that at the end of the pause, we will simply press play and continue dancing from where we left. To this group belong those who expect that when lockdown ends, we will come back with a bang! Churches will open with a bang, social gatherings and celebrations will be declared open with a bang; schools will open, towns will be flooded, cinemas will be full, stadiums will be full again; that there will be joy and celebration like we do when welcoming a new year and that life will pick up again from where we paused it!
The truth is that lockdown will end as no nation is able to sustain a prolonged lockdown. However, the sad reality is that COVID-19 has forced Normal to go on a compulsory leave and nobody knows when Normal will be back, that is, if it will ever return. COVID-19 has brought in a new boss who now sits on the same seat where Normal used to operate from. The new boss is the New Normal; he has no idea of what our former boss allowed us to do or not to do and he doesn’t care; he only demands two things from us if we are to get along with him: the love of the neighbour and self-discipline!
The sooner we get used to these new requirements, the easier it will become for us to work under this new boss. Every individual needs to be self-disciplined and self-discipline demands that we wear masks in public places not because the police is watching but because it is the right thing to do. It demands that we keep social distance not because the law says so but because it is for my own good; it calls for continuous washing of hands and sanitisation not because someone is watching but because I know it is the right thing to do. It calls on me to avoid crowded places not because I don’t want to mingle but because it is my health at stake here.
On love of neighbour the new boss wants us to protect each other and especially the sick, the aged and those with a weak immune system. It is the love of neighbour that will push me not to go to church or attend other gatherings when I have flue like symptoms; it will make me to freely self-isolate when I have mingled with someone who has been confirmed positive; it will make me stay home when my temperature is above the normal. I don’t stay home because I have nowhere to go or nothing to do, and not because I am anti-social but because I care about other people! This is a godly and a Christian act – even if staying home means missing a church service it’s the right thing to do because it is done out of love for the neighbour.
The same love for neighbour will make me ignore an extended hand and instead wave or use other more safer ways of greetings. It doesn’t matter how hurt the other person feels especially when you avoid their hand, it is for your own good and the good of the ignorant party. The love for neighbour should make the employers and companies not just to focus on how much profit they will make but rather how safe and protected their employees feel while at work! Protecting each other’s lives should be our primary goal.
Of importance to note is that I may be young, strong and healthy with strong immune system to fight the virus, but not everyone is as fortunate as I am; others are struggling with weak immune system; some are old, sick and vulnerable; they too would want to live longer like any one of us, it is therefore my responsibility not to be selfish and complicate the situation for them but to help them live longer by protecting them no matter what it takes.
We should not be focusing so much on when will the lockdown end or when will corona virus end; the lockdown will end first but the virus may stay with us for quite some time; our worry now should be on how to live with our new boss; our New Normal. We are in this together, we either stand together or we perish together; it is time to embrace self-discipline and love for the neighbour or else we will be in trouble with the New Normal!