I’ve spent the last few days reading and researching extensively about the social impact of plagues over the course of history. I’ve needed to do this as part of a larger writing project. It’s not something I recommend for most of us. But let me tell you some highlights of what I have learned:
- These kinds of cataclysmic events fundamentally reshape human culture, often for the better.
- Those with wealth always fair better than those without it. NOTE: We should not repeat history this time around. We know better; now we must do better.
- The key to cultural transformation was a community’s ability to hold together with deep empathy and compassion for one another. Those communities who fractured in conflict experienced long-term devastation.
I could name other learnings about historic plagues that are more troubling. I fear in the future we may need to talk through them. But not today. Today let’s set out to build a future world that works better than the one we are leaving behind.
Barbara Kingsolver once said in her book Animal Dreams, “The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.”
For now, I have hope. I have hope that a new world is, in fact, possible on the other side of all of this. It gives me even greater hope to realize that it’s the small actions you and I take, the commitments we make between each other to be kind, generous and compassionate that become the essential currency of a better world.
Come, Holy Spirit, come. May we together create heaven on earth.