The Covid-19 pandemic as a place of learning


Starting again from the crisis, in crisis, and through the crisis

(from the Alphonsian Academy blog)

One way that we humans assume realities, which surpass us and which we do not completely understand, is the sense of humor; joking makes us assume the disarming paradox of a reality that escapes us. Covid-19 has not escaped this rule, and of all the jokes we have seen circulating on the networks, perhaps the most eloquent could be the one that went something like this: “God: could you uninstall 2020, and reinstall it again? The current one has a virus!” The easy way out, or starting over again from the crises, in the crises, and through the crises?

We are going through a crisis in several global senses; a crisis that hits different levels of our existence is transversal in all senses; it produces perplexities, emotional disarm, and effectively. We say crisis because it is a reality that breaks schemes that uninstalls, calls for answers, for new, perhaps unprecedented decisions. In general, because it is presented as a bad situation, largely unexpected, that calls for knowing how to discern, judge, and give answers in view of possible solutions. From the faith, it is clear that it is a matter of listening to what these experiences can teach us at the time of the realization of God’s project in our history.

The crises highlight the miseries of our systems of life, both on a personal level and a social and systemic level. In fact, it is a crisis that, along with all the other crises that already exist, only highlights the fragilities and vulnerabilities of our systems of life. For it is perceived as a slap in the face to certain pretensions of humanity that aspires to control everything without anything stopping it in its relentless advance over all things; a slap in the face to certain arrogant, selfish, and individualistic paradigms (think of one of the most evident facts, the less rich are richer with this crisis and the poor are poorer and many have become impoverished). Paradigms that produce and sustain unjust systems that become violent and sustain violence of all kinds. As it usually happens, our humanity does not just give in, just as it is wrapped in its own miseries; at the same time, to a great extent, it is capable of reacting by generating alternative attitudes and spaces of life, more profound and in solidarity, trying to turn not only the other cheek to the slap of the crisis but to turn its whole body, affirming that the presence of life does not resign itself to dehumanizing blows of all kinds and colors.

Thus, we must answer among so many open questions: what kind of humanity are we willing to generate? If we want to continue responding with the old paradigms or generate new ones?

The question would not be so much where is God in the midst of these crises, but where is our answer to God, how can we rethink our ways of realizing God’s project, which is always life in abundance in the midst of the vicissitudes of history. Here then is at stake our learning, our theological, spiritual, and deep commitment to the realization of our history in a profoundly evangelical sense. The task would be to assume the social, economic, political, religious, ecological and moral crises as opportunities to rethink everything, without fear or cowardice, with humility and sincerity, with the courage to know that from the Spirit everything can be constantly recreated, opening new horizons of understanding and unfolding new forms of realization.

“Do not be afraid” and “I am with you until the end” – these are gospel words that can encourage us to keep walking, and make a new academic year, surely very peculiar, the opportunity for a completely new learning, prophetic, sapiential and liberating. For as Emily Dickinson so poetically put it:

“All things swept sole away
This — is immensity —

Who has not found the Heaven – below –
Will fail of it above –
For Angels rent the House next our’s,
Wherever we remove -.

Fr. Antonio Gerardo Fidalgo, C.Ss.R.

(the original text is in Spanish)