Reflecting on Life’s Paradoxes One Rainy August Sunday in Lockdown

Today is Sunday and it is the 155th day of our country’s lockdown. It is a rainy August Sunday.

And soon my mind starts to ponder on what has been happening since the beginning of this year, starting with the Taal Volcano eruption, in Tagaytay. Ashfall descended even upon parts of Metro Manila, and that was the first time many Filipinos had been made aware of the need to wear facial mask.

Phreatic volcano explosion of Taal Volcano, 12 January 2020

Image Source

Many of our countrymen living around the lake and depending on it for their livelihood were displaced and rendered homeless; many businesses around the area had to close shop. Because of this, a round of donation and fund drives began in many communities, including in my place, to extend help to our displaced, suffering brothers and sisters.

Just when life was slowly getting back to normal, the Coronavirus pandemic unleashed its fangs all around the globe. No escaping from the scary reality of it. And soon our lives have been far from what it used to be.

The NEW NORMAL is upon us all.

On one hand, I, just like many others, also regard this pandemic as blessing in disguise; a call for humanity to mend our ways, be more compassionate and caring, and for Mother Earth to heal. The reduced number of vehicles and factories polluting the air, not to mention the daily curfew imposed, adds to the much needed time for our environment to breathe and recoup.

The past few months have been a time of self-improvement and personal growth.

Many of us are learning to appreciate in a new way the more valuable things in life, especially,

  • Spending more time with our families and living life more simply;
  • Learning new skills and being more creative and productive;
  • Going back to the basics and finding more time with God in silent meditation and prayers, and
  • Continuing to be of help to our less fortunate brethren in whatever way we can.

Yet, as I reflect on what humanity has achieved so far, I also realize we are not much better than our forebears, as these hard realities show.

Life indeed is full of paradoxes.

  • We are supposed to have marched 2 decades into the new millennium. Yet, it seems we have retrogressed into the dark ages.
  • The more advanced civilization is, the more backwards humanity has become.
  • Hatred/hate speech, violence, brutality, lies/fake news, and divisiveness — all these are slowly eroding the human spirit.
  • I find it more heart-warming to watch videos or read about domestic animals – dogs, cats, birds, and even wild beasts, such as lions, bears, and apes, displaying human emotions.

Just watch this moving video:

Then you read almost daily in the news stories of how some humans are acting more like beasts. The capacity of humans to intentionally hurt or destroy fellow human beings is so heartbreaking and beyond me.

Not all is lost. I believe there is more goodness than evil in this world; more good people than the bad. Yet if we are not vigilant, the good among us will be devoured by the evil around us.

Reflecting further, I think of today’s most essential tools for making life easier. I couldn’t help but notice the irony of it all.

The Internet

Life before the internet was simpler, more peaceful. Internet was envisioned to make the sharing of ideas and information much easier and access to knowledge open for everyone.

But somehow along the way, information overload has overburdened our capacity for discernment, humility, and simplicity. As well as to be in Silence and Awe of the One from whom all things and beings come.

The less we know, the better for our ego.

Social Media

 Social media is meant to bring people closer to one another.  Yet, in this volatile, politicized world, social media clearly rips people apart.

Social media is meant to be a level playing field for all voices to be heard. Yet, social media has become a platform to drown out voices that differ from or oppose those of the powerful and the influential.

Social media is a communication tool for humans to use for their ends. Yet, social media seems to have used humans for its ends.

Even families and loved ones are not spared. Real conversations, face to face dialogues, or more meaningful interactions are being sacrificed in favor of too much attachment to our electronic gadgets.

While social media has succeeded in bringing out the best in us, it has also brought out the worst in us.

Technology

Technology ought to bring down social-economic barriers. Sadly, technology continues to put up barriers between the “haves” and the “have-nots” in this world.

For example, many poor people especially in far-flung areas cannot access the internet, much less own mobile phones or computers. But due to the precautions against COVID-19, schools are going online for their classes.

Plus so many other life’s hard realities.

How to deal with life’s challenges

I believe that when the going gets tough, we just need to be tough to get going. When I feel overburdened with my concerns and discomfort, I keep repeating this to myself, like a mantra. Be tough!

When fear overcomes, overcome fear with prayers and optimism.

Trust in God. In God, we put our trust.

These are just some of my random thoughts one rainy August Sunday in lockdown.