COVID-19, social distancing, quarantine, and stay-at-home orders have forced us all to confront questions about ourselves and our society that we have not faced this sharply for quite some time.
- Who are we?
- What does it mean to live in society with one another?
- What does it mean to be lonely?
- What is a home?
- What is a business?
While no one welcomes these circumstances, they do offer us an opportunity to reflect upon questions like these and many others. This edition of Notæ is dedicated to articles from the past several weeks that represent among the best thinking we have encountered on the humane impact of our current situation.
“The Virus Is a Reminder of Something Lost Long Ago,” by Alan Lightman in The Atlantic
“Habits of mind and lifestyle do not change easily. Without noticing, we slowly slip into the routines of our lives, like becoming so accustomed to living on a noisy street that we cannot remember our previous neighborhood and a time of silence. Some powerful force must strike to awaken us from our slumber. Now we have been struck. We have a chance to notice: We have been living too fast.”
“Uncanny Homes,” by Terence Sweeney in The Plough.
“Living during a pestilence is living through the experience of the uncanny. The word for uncanny in German is unheimlichkeit. It means not-being-at-home. It doesn’t refer to the experience of being away from home, though. What makes this emotion so disorienting, though, is that one feels not-at-home precisely when one is at home.”
“Schooling Hope”: an interview with Stanley Hauerwas in The Plough
“One of the ironies of the current situation is we’ve discovered through the threat of the virus that we are inextricably interrelated, and the means to deal with the virus requires, ironically, the naming of a social gesture that embodies a kind of loneliness.”
“The Courage to Be Alone,” by Megan Craig in The New York Times
“We are cresting a small hill and my daughter suddenly sits down. She is hungry and tired and doesn’t want to walk anymore. I sit beside her, still wondering about what Levinas said. It was something about the courage required to be alone, about a fragile consciousness, and the importance of the inner life.”
“Dear Students: There is No Afterwards,” by Leonard J. DeLorenzo in Church Life Journal
“We live under the illusion that we are invulnerable. The revelation of our vulnerability comes upon us like a reckoning. Right now, we all feel vulnerable, or if not yet, we are likely to feel it soon. It is hard to call anything about this pandemic “a gift”, but perhaps there is some element of gift in this one fact: we are all, at the same time, being confronted with our individual and collective vulnerability.”
Have you encountered any articles on COVID-19, the quarantine situation, or other aspects of our life together in this time that helped you grow in wisdom? Share them in the comments below.