It has been my personal assessment that from the moment this COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and it was clear that it was unusual — not just another flu; that there were few treatment options except to treat the symptoms (as there are all viral diseases) and that the likelihood of an effective immunization campaign was 24 to 36 months away — if at all!
Life as we knew it would never return.
The new “normal” was something that we could only envision in a SciFi movie.
The question that preoccupied me, beyond the obvious challenges of surviving without a secure source of income and staying healthy, was how long it would take the rest of the world to absorb this truth and start embracing it and acting accordingly.
Like all tragic events in the life of humanity, singularly and collectively, the Kubler-Ross model or “The Five Stages of Grief” could possibly be a good model to evaluate what is happening around us.
I remember attending my granddaughter’s Bat Mitzvah party back in March. Although her parents thoughtfully minimized the number of attendees, there was absolutely no outward signs that outside the doors of the hall raged a pandemic that would bring Western society to its knees. People simply did not want to address the issue.
The media, so often guilty of sensationalizing, were not trusted to tell the true story.
The government appeared cautiously optimistic that just as the major world recession had passed over Israel with minor affects, so too somehow miraculously we would come out relatively unscathed from this challenge.
When it was no longer possible to ignore the reality, denial turned to anger. Anger expressed itself as blame. The world blamed China, the anti-Semites blamed the Jews, the conspiracy blog-sphere blamed everyone and anyone: the CIA, Trump, the Surgeon General.
As the anger slowly, but not completely, subsided, the “Bargaining” began. This wasn’t the “no atheist in a foxhole” kind of bargaining. This was scientific calculated “bargaining.” Triage, Curve Management and any number of “tactics” to try and manage the advance of the virus while trying to save as many of the population as possible. Simultaneously desperately seeking some medical miracle to effectively deal with this world threatening challenge.
More recently in my day-to-day exchanges with individuals from around the globe (I live online – almost literally), the tone or atmosphere behind my correspondents’ communications has been one of desperation and despair. A kind of collective depression. Whether they fully acknowledged the truth I stated in my opening, “Life as we knew it would never return,” or not, they lived in a fear that tomorrow would be just another today with no hope of returning to “normal life.”
The truth is, I see this same ‘depression’ in newspaper editorials, the ones that have moved past the anger and blame. Even the governments of the world seem to be collectively stuck in a made race to “return things to normal.” A normal many esteemed scientists have already gone on record as never returning.
I longingly seek to see the signs that humanity, individually and especially collectively, will finally arrive at Kubler-Ross’s fifth stage – Acceptance. The realization that what was, was, and most likely never to return. Instead we need to embrace this new reality with all its restrictions and harrowing challenges, and start exploring new lifestyles, new collective values that will not only permit us to survive this world destroying calamity, but thrive in spite of it.