Hey, Elderly Aunt, how do you think this pandemic will change us as a community and as a society?
Certainly, the Elderly Aunt could speculate about the future until the cows finally came home. As a dyed-in-the-wool optimist whose glasses are permanently tinted rose, she would gabble on about a society both liberated and reborn—one in which we actually do all the caring and sharing we’ve been nattering about on social media.*
She would envision the New American Community as rooted in compassion, civility, respect for real (as opposed to fake) knowledge and an appreciation of our fellow citizens’ actual (as opposed to virtual) company.
She might even predict that after weeks of being starved for real—again, as opposed to virtual—human contact, even those of us like the Elderly Aunt who are not bona fide Christians would do our darnedest to behave like 1 Corinthians 13 on two feet.
Being a realist as well as an optimist, however, the Elderly Aunt feels obligated to confess that, wise as she is, she doesn’t have a clue how the coronavirus pandemic will affect our collective future. Instead, she will confine herself to stating the obvious: Society will continue to reflect the values and beliefs we bring to it as individuals.
So how can we as individuals contribute to a better future? Bring on the bullet points!
Coronavirus has brought our outside-the-home lives to an almost full-stop. For some, this means non-stop juggling of kids and an unfamiliar work situation. But to whatever extent possible, the Elderly Aunt suggests that rather than using this upended time to speculate about an unknowable future, we instead use it to:
- Get get to know ourselves better.
- Finally accept down to our toes that the goal of life is not to acquire more stuff.
- Get out of the horrible habit of rushing through this so we can get to that; discover the joy of focusing on whatever task is at hand, and—even more importantly—ask ourselves why we stayed so compulsively busy in the first place.
- Learn to focus on what we do have and can do, rather than wasting time and energy lamenting what we can’t do and don’t have.
- Realize the value of real—as opposed to virtual—community.
- Discover the joy of hanging out at home with ourselves and/or our peeps.
- Increase our respect for real knowledge. Resolve to opine less on subjects we know very little about, and instead practice the useful humility of listening to the truly well-informed
- And so on, and so forth. Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera.…
What the Elderly Aunt means to suggest with this latest flurry of bullet points is that you and she can use these weeks to improve our own personal habits of being.
As to the future, the Elderly Aunt can only restate her opinion that the only real effect we can have on it is how we ourselves behave once it becomes the present. The coronavirus pandemic has gifted us with the sharpest of contrasts between ignorantly bombastic, me-centric behavior that unsettles, confuses and makes things worse and informed, other-centric behavior that quietly contributes to the common societal good.
The Elderly Aunt suggests that we take this time to understand how we in the past contributed to society’s dysfunctional noise and frenzied busy-ness. That to her, is the first step toward becoming a quieter, less-frenzied, more functional person who can more effectively contribute to the common good of society’s future.
*Speaking of social media, dear reader did you notice, that Facebook has installed a “caring” thingamajiggy? One click, and it’s official! I care! I don’t know about you, but that sends chills down the Elderly Aunt’s spine. Her fingers and toes are crossed that social media doesn’t indoctrinate us into thinking that clicking is caring.
The Elderly Aunt offers her thoughtful responses to your questions about this wild ride we call life on every other Monday. And as a general disclaimer—to quote the elves from The Lord of the Rings — “… advice is a dangerous gift, even given from the wise to the wise.”
Got a question for the Elderly Aunt? Ask her on Facebook or email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Elderly Aunt question.” (Just please don’t ask detailed financial questions).