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The Health of a Nation

By April 20, 2020April 21st, 2020No Comments

A Global Pandemic Story

For every good reason, governments and media outlets have centralized around the critical need for everyone to play their part: focusing on individual health in regards to physical distancing, washing their hands, and staying home. The swelled curve of COVID-19 casualties and victims have been an advancing topic in every part of the world.

As we learn about the growing numbers and hear about the continuing concerns, we should also mourn for our world on a more macro level: the loss of health of our nations.

This health is defined by the pursuit of culture, knowledge, and community that becomes afflicted in the midst of this pandemic.  Our social relationships suffer as a result of physical distancing and staying home, with the overall hindrance of our integration with one another. As humans, our resilience and adaptability  propel us to make do with what we have: family dinners over Zoom, texting on WhatsApp, and Netflix parties with friends. We have adapted our expectations within social relationships.

Now, movies are stripped of world premieres, playgrounds are barren to witness childhood, sports stadiums house no winning games, and all types of arts and culture that exist to bring a community together are cancelled and postponed until further notice.

We cannot have live performances, world championships, or attend places of worship. The health of our nation depends on the coming together of artists, athletes, spectators, and listeners.  This makes up the vitality and vibrance of our communities and social lives. Our wellbeing relies on connection, as we are social beings at our core, in our foundation. “It takes a village,” and that doesn’t end after childhood; we need each other. Humans are joined through the mutual appreciation for gatherings and a single event happening on any stage: whether it is a basketball game, a ballet, or a weekly book club at a neighbor’s home.  We thrive off of spectatorship, entertainment, and performance: celebrating a winning home team, empathizing a character on stage, or sharing a birthday cake cut among a small group of friends.

In the Middle Ages, performance had no stage. Plays could take place in the middle of the town square or market as people pass by or stay to watch. Children would run around and, often, into the unfolding of a famous, well rehearsed battle scene or a well-known biblical story. The “stage”, in that sense, is not what we have always known it to be. These performances and gatherings demonstrated that humans do not need a built edifice to come together, and that perhaps there is a larger stage that we all share in common; hope.

So in the spiral of chaos, uncertainty, illness, death, and despair, the hope of a time where we can come together again seems to be the one place that we can all hold onto.  It is the future of our social lives that is the largest pocket of hope we have. In the last few weeks we have seen the efforts to bring our communities back to life: live streaming operas, a star studded, global COVID-19 fundraising benefit concert, and complementary virtual classes offered by top academic institutions. The efforts to provide the nations with a reminder that all of these aspects of our culture, our sense of normalcy, still exist and can still take place is an inspiring, necessary reminder that we need performance.  The livestreams, replays, and daily social media check-ins from our favorite public figures are examples of their commitment to the future. This same future holds their work: where they can again, one day, show a mass of people what they were born to do.

When this pandemic struck, it is not only individuals who are suffering. Our nation has become ill, too. So, knowing that, we can only look towards the future; the future where we can come together again and share through the arts and our mutual appreciation for celebrations. There is a silver lining. Until now, we may have taken it for granted, and perhaps may not do so again in our lifetimes: the arts and the freedom to celebrate life together. 

Wishing you health, connection and happiness,

Meg & SA

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