“You can’t do clear observation if you ain’t in the field.
You can’t be a pure observer if you’re now in the field.”
Toba Beta, Betelgeuse Incident
The reality of crisis is not an arm chair experience. However sensational, to have the news of crisis hand fed to us across a screen is merely the viewing or reading of current events. If we’re inconvenienced in the grocery store or had to delay our plans for making dinner reservations for eight at The Hoi Faloi Restaurant, we are likely not in the midst of a crisis. If we’ve lost so-and-so percent of our million dollar stocks, we will do better than “just survive”. We’re affected, but for us, this is a temporary inconvenience.
We’re not in the field.
If we are to compare our plight with COVID-19 with war and you or a loved one are sick, you have been targeted by a terrorist sniper on it’s own battlefield.
You are in the field if you, a loved one or both are in immediate danger. Perhaps life threatening peril. It may be caused directly or indirectly by the crisis. Metaphorically, random shrapnel blown from an IED. At that moment there is no time to reflect on lessons you or the world might learn from it.
Using the war metaphor, you have been hit by the novel coronavirus atomic bomb.
And you are alone.
You may well be struggling with your last breath.
Your mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin might be gasping with everything they’ve got for a simple breath of air.
A “machine” may be keeping them alive.
And all alone.
Or, you have a mild case from which you will nicely recover, hoping you haven’t infected ANYONE.
The same precious loved ones are possibly seriously wounded from collateral fallout.
A stray bullet, a misguided missile.
Metaphorically a relapse in drug addiction or achohol recovery, a heightening of a mental health issue, PTSD triggers, suicidal ideation or worse.
One may suddenly fall victim to domestic violence, or other violent crimes caused by societal upheaval from the viral bomb.
You are, perhaps a front line medic. A life saving, everyday J.Q.P. turned life risking hero.
If you’re extremely fortunate, your family, friends and all of their families will survive.
There will be time and more time for wound healing and there will be scars.
It is only then, after we’ve returned from the battlefield, tallied the corpses, mourned our dead and begun to heal our wounds, that we can begin to reflect.
We cannot glean lessons from a fire while the building is burning down around us.
If there is a universal message, it will be discovered when all of the victims are rescued, the dead are memorialized, the injured are healed and their scars are formed.
The moral of the story, if there is one, will be buried somewhere deep beneath the cold ashes.
Revealing it will not be an armchair experience.
It’ll be soul-shivering hard work.
In the meanwhile, perhaps we can take heart in the small moments that we’re given.
Understand with compassion that this crisis is a different experience for everyone.
And hopefully cherish every beautiful detail about each one of us that makes the fight worthwhile.