At Comment I wrote about how the coronavirus links us in a solidarity of suffering. But we’ll have to work to retain that solidarity with the more everyday kinds of suffering when the pandemic passes.
This piece was published in partnership with the Breaking Ground project, which asks how we can use this time of disruption do better than the pre-pandemic status quo.
It is a hard teaching to love our enemies, to overcome hatred with meekness. But, at present, we also struggle to see the face of God in our neighbour not because we are tempted to hate our neighbour, but because we have rarely glimpsed our neighbour’s face. We have sought each other out in the present moment of extremis.
In the grip of the virus, our collective suffering is unchosen, forced on us. In the days and months to come, we have a responsibility to retain the present sense of compassion, which means “to suffer with.” As stores eventually reopen, and parks fill again, we have to remember and seek out the people whose need was particularly acute in the pandemic, but for whom “normal” is still a slow-moving disaster.