Our future memories are the choices we make today.
It is a crisp autumn day and I am walking with my granddaughter in a park. she is ten or eleven. Fearless in the face of cold, she jumps about on the carpet of color spun by trees preparing for winter. I, bundled up against the weather and grateful for the assistance of a cane, am unable to match her steps nor her questions that come quick and fast, but she is patient with me. She pauses and turns to me; she wants to know what it was like the time the whole world stopped.
I think about how I can tell this child about another decade when time-warped into its shadow and all humanity was in pain. She looks up at me, expectantly. Her home education history curriculum had a chapter on the Great Pandemic of 2020 that was followed by the Second Great Recession. It was a time when misery reverberated in waves over all countries; not one was spared. Hundreds of thousands died and many more suffered joblessness and poverty. The poor, the weak and the old were the hardest hit, but the mighty also fell and many broke. Countries that were invincible against attack and war, crumbled against a phantom enemy that laughed in the face of their guns and munitions. It was not held back by walls or regulations. It flattened lives.
The world had witnessed many atrocities and disasters over the centuries; natural disasters, wars, famines, and human crimes, but never before was the entire world affected by the same thing at the same time. The time of the Corona was different. At that time, the whole world seemed to stop. Countries shut their borders; airports were closed; travel was prohibited. Shops, cinemas, restaurants, all closed; even schools and universities were locked. People stayed home for months on end. The virus wove itself into the very fabric of ordinary life, everywhere.
The structure of social interaction changed; a handshake was a threat and a hug became an act of aggression. Social distancing, as it was known, became the new normal. Work moved online; rituals and celebrations morphed into shadows of their former selves. The sight of an empty Vatican during Easter and a Mecca completely devoid of worshippers had been unimaginable before Corona, but the unreal became the new reality. Family gatherings were held with laptops across the table…