It is too quiet outside. Almost five months into this pandemic and it is difficult to describe how it’s going.  

What strikes me is that all the fundamental changes swirling around us like an F1 tornado seem to have morphed into one amorphous action. Every day is beginning to feel the same — same news, same issues, same restrictions, same holes in our lives. “Numb,” is a word that comes to mind.

Before the pandemic (BP), we had short- and longer-term milestones that helped us delineate time. Now, we don’t. Better said, we have them, but they no longer seem to carry much weight.  

Holidays, school, church services, deaths, vacations, and other time-disruptors have disappeared from the landscape. That’s why time seems to race by us and is accelerating.

Not only does it feel like life is just throttling by in a blur, but it also feels like our ability to appreciate and process important issues and information is fading. Everything and anything political seems no longer to disrupt or fracture our lives — our standards, our values, our sensibilities — as it did before.  

We know intellectually that much is still wrong and broken, but we have no voice remaining.

What do we humans tend to do when faced with something that is threatening our lives? “Fight” or “flight” is our hard-wired response choice. Perhaps we have lost our will or our ability to opt for “fight.” That would be tragic. 

We are dealing with a difficult reality today. History — or those symbols that represent history — are literally being destroyed, for better or worse. 

However, history to a large degree, dictates the future, and those who don’t learn from history, are doomed to repeat it. Thus, our history — our knowledge of it — is a double-edged sword. 

Federal militia are being used to displace local police in some cities — possibly many more cities soon. That should terrify us, but few seem to be alarmed. 

We are experiencing a seismic shift in race relations — one full of sound and fury in the streets that has now endured far longer than any previous action. Yet, I wonder how many at the end of the day expect permanent change as a result. We’ve been here before, and perception, along with our memory of history, dictates the future. 

We should not forget that in our understanding of history, hardship, obstacles and the mountain we and our country must climb help form our character, our values and who we are. That is, bad times like these are not all bad.  

I live, very part time, on an island 5 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico in the panhandle of Florida. The ends of that island are accreting — gaining — sand while the middle of the island is losing sand and washing away. The net result of both is probably that the amount of sand remains relatively constant, so the relevance of the changes depends on where you are on the island.

That island is a metaphor for this pandemic. Change is constant, and the relevance of the change depends on how directly it is impacting you.  

That change also comes in cycles, like the tides and the seasons, including hurricane season. In the middle of those hurricanes — or this pandemic — it often feels like the end. Yet, they always pass, and a new morning comes, with calm waters, cool breezes, and safety, yet again. 

We would do well to remember these life cycles and to try to keep the specific events that we experience in perspective. We must stay focused and not allow ourselves to be numbed to the point of blindness and impotence during this pandemic — “flight” — and instead opt to remain vigilant and to protect those things that are important to us — “fight” — for our values, standards and the common good.

It’s going to be OK, but we have to make it so. 

 “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: everything.” Ecclesiastes 3:17

Ray is the Publisher Emeritus for Appen Media and the Herald newspapers.

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