A old friend, a friend of our family’s, sent me Kitty O’Meara’s poem, And The People Stayed Home...” as being I suppose an appropriate, timely, and comforting response to the havoc wrought by the Coronavirus and COVID-19. If you haven’t read it, and don’t know it, you will find it below at the end of this posting.
Now I don’t know Kitty O’Meara, and I certainly know nothing of why and how she wrote this poem. And I like the poem. How could anyone not like the poet’s good thoughts in this major Time of Trouble that we are now living through?
But don’t we need something else entirely, more like a call to arms. Don’t we need to be, even while separated, while keeping our distances from one another, don’t we need to be on a war footing against this virus that is going along happily chewing up our lung tissue and killing us?
And guns and tanks won’t help us as they did, say, against the Germans in the forties. (Now the Germans are our friends and we have joined up with them.) But aren’t there things we could be doing against this deadly organism that is invading our bodies?
For example, shouldn’t we be somehow providing PPEs, that is protective clothing that would keep the bug away, especially from the “first responders”. Protective clothing being probably the very first thing that we should provide to all those who need it, in particular the combatants who by their work are most at risk themselves?
The bug is no friend of ours, although like us a living organism. We need to uncover it, find it perhaps when it’s fully occupied eating our flesh and destroy it. In this case, as in so many critical moments in our past, we can’t allow ourselves to be distracted even by the best within us, our art and music, our philosophy. This is one more war to the end, and could if we do nothing come close, as so many plagues in the past, to destroying us.
Our first line of defense , the PPEs should at a minimum prevent this from happening. Also there are those of us, especially in the absence of protective clothing, who have caught the bug, and the bug is now in their bodily systems. Shouldn’t we no less be providing devices for properly managing the sick and dying, devices such as ventilators now so much in the news and so much in demand? And then there are the medicines and vaccinations that don’t yet exist but could be here within months if not a year or two and thereby assure our survival, but only if we set about with all our forces right now developing them ?
So Kitty O’Meara’s “stay at home” people, if they are doing what should be their and our real job, taking part in the war against the bug, wouldn’t have time for reading books, making art, playing games… for to do these kind of things wouldn’t it be like fiddling while Rome burned? That of which we have been guilty so many times in the past. Our survival I guess has always meant that when it came right down to it we took the right actions, did the right thing. Because after numberless disasters we are still here.
What people shouldn’t be doing is join together only when the danger is past, “And when the danger passed, and the people joined together…”
The people need to join together now when the danger is upon us.
Kitty O’Meara’s lovely poem, is perhaps for another time:
And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.