Today I found this stunning image of a film being projected onto a building in Rome, an effort to keep people entertained during quarantine, an encouragement to the citizens of Rome to stay inside and watch from their windows. Accompanying the image was an article in Air Mail entitled “Some Things Never Change,” comparing our present catastrophe to the time of the Black Death (1347-1349) written by John Kelly, author of The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time. He observes: “The most inspiring and surprising thing I learned about the Black Death was the resilience and kindness of many people in the midst of its ceaseless ravages.” He goes on to write: “At this fraught moment in the coronavirus’s imminence in our lives, the heroism of health providers, public officials, pharmacy and restaurant workers, school officials, and ordinary friends and family members reaching out to one another is deeply heartening.” It is a wonderful, uplifting article about the cyclical nature of things around one eternal constant: our human decency. Of course, not everyone, not all the time, but a lot of people, a lot of the time. I believe this to be true. Besides the universe told me so 🙂
Another article I read upon a friend’s recommendation was Roger Cohen’s oped in today’s New York Times which evoked, among many other things, the by now oft cited (and sold out on Amazon) The Plague by Albert Camus, in which he writes: “The only way to fight the plague is with decency.” But the line I love above all from Camus which sums up the human condition, plague or no plague, is “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” Hope and hopelessness are inextricably linked, hope often the harder to imagine, but we like a challenge and our imaginations are big.