By Shaddy Hanna
What is it about our current situation that leaves us so unnerved, so disturbed, and so perturbed? Is it our lack of control? Is it the overwhelming sense of insecurity and instability? Or is it the fear of the unknown? I’m sure it’s many of the above, but for me, the niggling source of anxiety that has troubled me most in the past few days and weeks has been the certainty of this uncertainty.
We only need to look at the trends of our own country, let alone the case studies from other countries, to come face-to-face with the reality that seems to be impending. Hospitals flooded. Jobs lost. Economies tumbling. People dying. It looks like a movie, sounds like the next world war, but feels oddly strange and surreal. We are no longer living in the imagination of our elders’ pastime or the filmmakers’ fictional stories, but reality. The angst is palpable, and the fear is visible. We are all hypervigilant and aware of an impending sense of loss that may come –we will all lose, we will all sacrifice, and we will all grieve.
And yet, what aggravates the angst is the uncertainty: How bad will it get? How long will it really last? Three months, six, nine? Will it ever go away? What if it won’t? How will I deal with the loss to come? How will we get through this? Is this the beginning of the end?
There is much uncertainty. But what is most distressing, is how certain the uncertainty appears as every day goes by with its relentless updates and countless policy changes.
But, uncertainty is not the only thing that is for certain. The power of love is also for certain. The beauty of kindness is also for certain. The loyalty of a true friend is also for certain. The splendour of courage is also for certain. And hope for the future can also be for certain.
Every generation faces trouble. Our reporters are right, this may indeed be “a once-in-a-century” event, but every century has had their fair share of disaster and turmoil. We are no more immune to the havoc which nature can expose us to, than any generation prior to us. And yet, for some reason, we had always believed we were immune to it up until this point? Maybe it’s our “chronological snobbery”, as C.S. Lewis puts it so finely, that left us thinking we had reached the peak of human civilisation, immune from the effects of disasters; undoing our systems, our economies, and our sanity?
Whatever it was, our false sense of confidence and comfort, security and stability were indeed misguided. Once again, we have been reminded, as an entire civilisation, that we are not as autonomous, self-sufficient or independent as we wish to think. For even a spherical virion, 125 nanometres in diameter, has had the power to completely undo all that we had put our confidence in.
But, just as every generation has faced trouble, so they have also made it through. For when trouble hits, courage has the opportunity arise; when suffering is present, selfless love can be shared; and when need arises, community can be embodied.
The next few months, we will likely face more uncertainty, that’s for certain. But remember, uncertainty does not have to be the only certainty that defines you. Love, kindness, loyalty, courage, and hope can also be certainties, if only we let them conquer our desire to crush uncertainty.