Victoria Jelinek


Collectivism

It has been stressful to be back in the classroom teaching, though I am honored to do so. What has been most fatiguing, however, has been observing people around me, and around the world, who pretend that Covid-19 does not pose a real threat. Who are “tired” of it and want it done (a petulant stamp of the foot accompanies this in my imagination). They justify their selfish actions with hollow reasoning. It reminds me of the feeble minded morals evident during World War II…how French Nazi sympathizers would “rat” on their neighbors to the Vichy government or to the Nazi’s themselves in order to make life somewhat “easier” for themselves in the short term. I now know who I would not want to be in a fox hole with during a war. Fortitude is needed. And it is not easy for anyone. My own small family live in other parts of the world, my 87-year-old mother is 14,000 kilometers away, so I may not see her again alive, which deeply saddens me.

My husband tells me to “let it go,” but truly, I cannot. Though, perhaps, it is that I will not? Deeply embedded in me is the (apparently erroneous) belief that humans CAN be better that we often are. Intellectually, I understand mankind is generally self-serving and aggressive and always has been. But idealistically I expect more of myself and of others. Consequently, the failure of much of the population to practice some self-restraint for the betterment of all during a global pandemic has left me feeling distressed. Practically isolated AND ideologically isolated.

E.M. Forster in 1938

Then a friend sent this attachment to me and, despite my skepticism about any religion, I thought, “Hurray! I am not alone” in my disappointment and fatigue with humanity’s actions in the face of Covid-19. There are, indeed, others who feel and behave as I do. And, as E.M. Forster wrote in his great essay “What I Believe,” it will be these “bright lights in the darkness” that will help us all find our way out of this nightmare.


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