“What is this thing that has happened to us? It’s a virus, yes. In and of itself it holds no moral brief. But it is definitely more than a virus. Some believe it’s God’s way of bringing us to our senses. Others that it’s a Chinese conspiracy to take over the world.
Whatever it is, coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to “normality”, trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality.
Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.
We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
(The passage above is by South Asian writer Arundhati Roy and is part of a longer essay that appeared in the Financial Times April 3, 2020.)
So here we are as the pandemic transitions to an endemic infection choosing to “drag the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies” through this portal of opportunity desperately clinging to the good old days pre pandemic. The examples in the US are too numerous to count. As a healthcare provider who worked in a community heavily impacted by Covid 19 I’ve been especially concerned about the mental health pandemic accompanying and following the Covid 19 pandemic as identified by the World Health Organization + World Health Organization realized early in the pandemic. Unfortunately, data are showing the population with an increase in suicides during the pandemic is teens.
Several community based arts organizations and donor organizations have made funds available to engage youth and to provide them with opportunities to address their pandemic experiences, fears and hopes. I was invited to take part in one such project organized by Amplifier.org. Student photographers were given a prompt to identify what they’re happy to reconnect with in the post pandemic period. The prompt is “Reconnecting with…” where the students fill in the black and provide an accompanying photo that a more established artist will interpret and make into a poster.
The student I was paired with is a young African-American woman who identified friends as as what she’s excited about reconnecting with. Here’s her submission with my interpretation of it…
I got those young folx being love-bombed by sunflowers and nature while enjoying the presence of one another and human touch. The rays emanating from the young man in the center evolve into portals releasing more life + love via the sunflowers.