I’ve never (well, as never is an absolute word, perhaps, better said, rarely) felt, been so small.
For nine weeks (or, having lost count, is it ten or eleven?), I’ve practiced our newfound, newly-imposed global disciplines of self-quarantine, and, when venturing out and only when necessary, social distancing.
As an African American male about to reach the ripe age (but as one, at any given moment, is as old as one is and can be, therefore, any age is ripe for that one!) of three score plus eight years and with pre-existing conditions, I fall within the category(ies) of folk most susceptible to contracting and suffering the worst consequences COVID-19.
I feel small. I am small.
My tiny sense of self is close to my manifold past and present experiences of contemplating huge human problems – racism, sexism, homophobia, generational poverty and homelessness, drug addition, global warming and climate change – and wondering, often responding with little in the way of making-a-big-change kind of answer, “What can I do?”
Nevertheless, at the same time, paradoxically, I’ve never felt, been so big.
And in don’t mean in terms of my quarantine-related weight gain.
The debate on how to address the pandemic is ongoing. Chief among the tensions is the never easily achieved (and, when, if achieved, then maintained) balance between individual liberty and communal safety. My state of South Carolina and other states now seek to reopen their economies. I fear that an element of this ambition is a desire to return to normal. Though understandable, given what I perceive to be the staying power of the coronavirus, I do not believe that “normal” exists.
Thus, going forward, I eschew all of the political-of-whatever-stripe-trumpeting (read: bickering) about what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Rather I hear and heed the voices of science and, even more, I follow my Christian-based ethic of care for others. In this, I believe that the practices of quarantining and distancing can protect others (and, yes, myself), reducing the probabilities of infection and, thus, the possibilities of death.
Endnote: About social distancing, it occurs to me that the practically wholesale use of technological media (and daring to date myself, giving new meaning to the words of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?”) means that we, though not in person, able to remain in visual and auditory presence, are more physically distanced, but not wholly socially distanced.