Our lives have been turned upside down by COVID-19. Even “working from home” is very different from commuting daily to one’s workplace.
Fr Oskar Wermter SJ
Not being able to chat with grandparents in their retirement home is a disturbing change in our family culture.
Not being able to leave the house and going to go where we want is a restriction of one’s normal freedom of movement.
Rationally we understand and hopefully we accept unhappily and without enthusiasm why such rules must be observed.
We do it, not just for our own sakes, but for the sake of our fellow citizens, whether we know them or not.
What may harm strangers elsewhere, even in far away countries may eventually harm us.
It is an act of charity, even for strangers, and consideration for people we have never met before.
But how do we spend the time of this lockdown which is not welcome at all, and the isolation from our normal friends and workmates, interfering even with our families?
They can interfere with our normal working lives, but they cannot take this suddenly “free time” away from us altogether.
The time of our lives belongs to us and we cannot, and should not be deprived of it.
Time is precious under any circumstances.
If we cannot use it as we want, that would be prison time, incarceration, and lands us in a life we have not chosen, we do not want, which is forced upon us.
Some of us believe that “time is money”.
But most of us believe it is more than that. Besides, turning our working time into nothing but money-making adventure cannot be the only object of our lives.
It would affect our humanity and freedom of action.
Just “killing time”, also cannot be the answer.
It would be a bad and harmful education for our children who should learn that time is a valuable asset.
I hope that all workers find their work satisfying and fulfilling.
One should expect that a woman who works outside her home loves what she does.
I would be glad if I could assume that women teachers (and more and more teachers these days are women) love their children, are interested in the families they come from and never cease to learn more themselves as they teach and increase the knowledge and intellectual ability of their students.
A good teacher is a learner.
A good preacher continues to be a student of scripture and a reader of relevant literature.
Being a teacher is a key position in any society.
During the current lockdown I am not idle.
I read a lot. But I also kept busy as a writer.
I had a plan which I wanted to put into practice “once I had the time”.
Many people have such hopes for the future.
But they never get there because the “right moment” never comes.
But now the “right time” had indeed come, I was given a tremendous opportunity I would never be given again.
There is a concept in Scripture which expresses this well. It is “kairos” ( a word of ancient Greek).
It means “the opportune moment”, a chance that will not come again.
You must use it now, it will not come a second time.
There is a proverb in Shona which puts it very well: “Chawawana batisisa, mudzimu haupe kaviri”. (What you obtained hold on to it, the spirit does not give twice).
Actually, the chance I was given was free time to write the “Story of my Life” which I had meant to do for some time.
Now I suddenly had the time. I was not to waste it.
An engineer may have a brilliant idea, how to solve a certain technical problem.
Now he has the unique chance to work it out in detail.
A poet or a novelist may have an inspiration.
Now is the time to write it down, and to show it to his wife and his colleagues, and to challenge them to critique it, develop it further or build on the original inspiration and write a suitable ending.
Such a lockdown may enable us to harvest the fruits of our creativity.
The pandemic will not come again, but the creative time it has given us may offer us another chance.
During COVID-19 time governments are given the chance of showing and acting out international solidarity.
This is the time to bring nations and countries together which is vitally necessary since we are all in the same boat.
We survive together or go under together. We can only survive if we share the vaccine. Once 60 to 70% is vaccinated, the whole population will be become less vulnerable.
This is the time to act as one in the whole world.
That is why we call it “pandemic” (“pan” means “universal”).
It is everywhere, so we have to defeat it everywhere, in one worldwide process.
There is no room for selfishness, for rivalry and competition.
This is not the time for “nationalism”, “America First” sloganeering, or making money, and become rich and powerful.
No time for ex-US President Donald Trump and his comrades.
That would be self-defeating.
The vaccines were developed in huge intellectual and technical efforts. They are coming out of a scientific culture which has its roots in all our cultures.
No one can claim them as their private property and no one possesses them as monopoly.
They are there to ensure the life of the world which has only one Creator and one humanity.