Peering into the Fault Lines

COVID-19 has, among other things, exposed a lot.

The biggest risk factors for dying of COVID-19 are often complicating health factors that are mostly caused by poor lifestyles — hypertension, heart disease, Type II diabetes, obesity, poor lung function due to smoking. Also, poor communities and people of color are more likely to have severe complications.

The pandemic has taught us what is really an essential worker. Aside from physicians, nurses and other health care workers, our society functions because of grocery store workers, farmers, delivery people, and others who are often at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. They’re the ones who keep things running in the background under normal circumstances.

Coronavirus has exposed which governments function, and which do not.

We have a long way to go before the full picture comes into view. Which policies about lockdowns worked; which ones didn’t? Sweden seems to be claiming some kind of victory of self-management by not implementing the severe restrictions of other European countries. However, their death rate is double that of Portugal’s, with roughly the same population.

We already see which communities can come together, and which ones are unraveling, mostly along sadly predictable seams.

But this is an article not about the societal fault lines that COVID-19 has exposed. It’s about the personal weaknesses we are confronting in our individual lives. Just like the Earth’s crust, we all have hairline fractures just below the surface. The daily distractions of commutes, errands and social gatherings help us to live blissfully unaware of them.

The pressure builds and we experience a jolt, a shift, a shudder. The damage varies, depending on the size of the movement. We gauge our emotional Richter Scale, and then go about the business of rebuilding.

The fault lines have always been there. How we choose to live with them, to prepare for the inevitable quakes, is up to us. We can shore ourselves up, build in resistance and flexibility so we don’t crumble when it happens again. And believe me, it’ll happen again and again.

As the evangelical pastor Charles Swindoll reminds us, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” Let’s admit it, though. That’s easier said than done. It requires knowing where our fault lines are, how deeply they run, and generally how they behave under pressure. This insight can help us to prepare. So that we’re not caught unawares, in shock and disoriented, shaken and disheveled.

Where or what are your fault lines? How have they behaved under this intense, global, historic pressure? How do you prepare to clear the rubble and rebuild?

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