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Author: Jonathan Clark

Fragments on Fragments #30: Being Human in a Pandemic

I’d like to focus mostly though on those of us who aren’t in such horrendous situations, but have also found ourselves spending more time with those with whom we are in the same household – for most of us, our nearest and dearest. For many, everything’s been just fine, but for some, relationships have come under real strain, even to breaking point.

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Fragments on Fragments #29: Being Human in a Pandemic

That is the sort of change which I at least find restful. Chaotic change is not! Change over which you have no control, or which you can’t at least predict, is exhausting – and it’s that sort of change we’re all living through at the moment. As the levels of virus rise and fall in different places, the rules of life change quickly. Keeping up with what’s allowed and what isn’t is hard work in itself.

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Fragments on Fragments #28: Being Human in a Pandemic

We all need rest. Not just now, but in the rhythm of our lives. The pandemic seems to have only accentuated the division in our society, between those who are over-busy, in even more demand than ever, and those who suddenly find that they’re not needed, that they’re surplus to requirements. That was always a great evil, and if it gets worse, it may end up creating a dangerous chasm through the middle of our communities to the extent that we are no longer aware of our unity.

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Fragments on Fragments #27: Being Human in a Pandemic

The absence of touch has only occasionally been spoken of, but I am sure that it has been one of the most painful and demoralising aspects of the pandemic for very many. Touch is intimate and powerful, which is why inappropriate forms of touch can be so damaging. But equally, touch which affirms and expresses love is an extraordinarily important way of maintaining our health, psychologically, physically and spiritually.

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Fragments on Fragments #26: Being Human in a Pandemic

Still more is it impossible to grasp the wholeness of a human being in their manifold complexity. Yes, we can understand some parts pretty well, and Western science has come an extraordinarily long way in understanding how bodies work, but each individual’s uniqueness means that even where we know the most, there is a vast amount more to discover. Faiths and philosophies around the world have explored the deep spiritual waters of the human soul, without any signs as yet of plumbing the depths.

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Fragments on Fragments #25: Being Human in a Pandemic

It’s not possible for society to remain in lockdown indefinitely, either economically or psychologically, even if that might be the perfect solution for protecting the most vulnerable. But neither is it in the least OK to write off those who will be most at risk for the benefit of the economy and those who want to get back to normal and take the risk.

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Fragments on Fragments #24: Being Human in a Pandemic

It’s a tricky balancing act: offering the emotional support that others need, without colluding with opinions which are untrue or unkind. I wouldn’t claim to have got it right. But Heraclitus encourages me that the effort is worth making. Searching for truth will always involve disagreement, and especially in turbulent times. And with so much falsehood around, it’s all the more important.

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Fragments on Fragments #23: Being Human in a Pandemic

One thing at least we should get from Heraclitus, which is backed up by human experience: peace is hard work. It’s not what naturally happens when we just stop being nasty to each other. If there is an alternative to a world built on a balance of competing opposites, it is one built on patient peace-making. I hope for a harmony which comes from people realising that their different needs are not dissonances but resonances.

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Fragments from Fragments #22: Being Human in a Pandemic

It may be worth taking a moment to reflect on how your worldview has changed during 2020. I doubt if many people have decided on the basis of this year that the world is more ordered and harmonious than they had thought. Many will probably have moved in the opposite direction. If your view has changed, and you think rightly, it’s probably worth recognising explicitly that it has, and what has caused it. Or if you feel you have been pushed away from what you truly believe by the pandemic and its effects, it’s all the more important to rediscover what you truly believe.

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