Saturday, April 25, 2020

Resetting Our Lives after the Pandemic

  By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed virtually everything in our lives and the lives of others.  What comes next?

The computer is a useful analogue.  Viruses can cause computers to crash, and when they do they have to be returned to factory settings and be reprogrammed.  The coronavirus pandemic will cause similar dysfunctions for all of us.  When we try to reset our lives after the pandemic, we will find that many familiar programs no longer function.

How will we reset our lives after the pandemic?  Even after a vaccine controls the coronavirus, life in America will be different.  Political, religious and educational institutions will never be the same and will have to be reprogrammed to accommodate new realities.  Many of the cultural traditions and institutions we grew up with will not survive in a post-pandemic world.

The November elections may come too soon to gauge new political realities since we will likely still be in the pandemic.  Politics and the economy, which are inextricably bound together, will likely still be in disarray.  Uncertainty is likely to prevail until a vaccine is available.

In religion, the seeds of transformation have already been planted and are beginning to sprout.  After the pandemic, not all traditional congregational activities will be revived, but the church will adapt and religious activities will continue in new and unconventional forms.

Education will have to be reinvented utilizing distance learning technology.  In public schools that should produce more positives than negatives; and in higher education, it’s past time that distance learning is fully integrated and emphasized in universities and colleges.

We need to remember that in a democracy, we are the masters of our political destiny.  We have no one to blame but ourselves for whatever comes after the pandemic.  We need to accept responsibility for reshaping the world around us, and not blame others for our failings.

In the midst of all this uncertainty, one thing is certain: It’s the universal and timeless moral imperative of the greatest commandment to love God and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves--including our neighbors of other races and religions.

If we apply that altruistic principle to the issues we will face in a post-pandemic world, we can’t go wrong.  The future will remain a mystery, something that God alone can see; but we can help shape the future by contemplating the new realities that will follow the pandemic.  

This commentary will attempt to start that process, and I invite your response.

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