Column: 4 Weeks Of Sheltering & Isolation

May 2, 2020

[Opinion column written by Glenn Fubler]

As the four-week ‘Shelter in Place’ closes – without returning to normal – we are reminded of a young carpenter who spent 40 days and nights in isolation, two millennia ago. That story of transformation is central to the Christian religion – which marks it annually with Lent. The appreciation of the link between challenging circumstances and transformation is evident across various cultures.

Will this period in the wilderness be leveraged as an opportunity for transformation, globally or locally?

One thing that is clear, is the air. It is evident that the period of down-time has been a boon to the global environment. We’ve all been afforded a glimpse of the ecosystem benefits offered if human society returns to a balanced approach between economy and ecology.

When Jesus spent time in the wilderness he caught a glimpse of how the human family might live based on the principle: ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself’. He recruited a few fishermen and others to share the notion.

There have been a number of exemplary champions whose wilderness experiences leveraged transformation in the 20th century:

  • Gandhi chose simple living, leveraging people-power to peacefully overcome the British Empire in India.
  • Martin Luther King faced the terror of American ‘Jim Crow,’ accessing a dream and fostering peaceful transformation.
  • Malcolm X experienced imprisonment and the Nation of Islam’s rigidity before his first international travel accessed his glimpse of a better World.
  • Nelson Mandela and colleagues endured two-plus decades on Robbin Island, transforming that notorious prison into a school, leveraging a transformed South Africa.

These champions experienced glimpses/visions of what was possible; inspiring right-action on their part. The silver-lining during this cloud of COVID19 is that we all have been offered glimpses of what is possible:

  • The clarity of the air – most essential for life – has implications for both health and addressing the climate crisis.
  • The challenge of the pandemic has engendered a sense of global solidarity which has been evident on various fronts – e.g. 50 Cuban doctors assisting Italy.
  • Our friends in Cayman exemplified solidarity; assisting Bermuda in securing adequate testing kits for the contagion.
  • ‘Loving our neighbour’ has been realized in a variety of ways: globally, numerous doctors and other hospital staff have given their lives in treating Covid-19.
  • Locally, scores continue volunteering to support the island-wide feeding programs for the most vulnerable; more than $1 million has been volunteered for a pandemic response from a variety of sources – business and individuals.

We’ve all had life experiences offering a glimpse of the possible.

  • A diverse group of residents has volunteered with a Personal Empowerment Circle at Westgate, over the past 15 months. We’ve found that this pilot has successfully accessed the wonderful potential of persons at the margins; offering a glimpse of the possible.
  • Responding to Covid-19; exemplifying statesmanship, Government has worked with the Opposition and the private sector, offering a glimpse of the benefits of collaborative leadership.

The experience of this crisis is an offer to draw lessons from the ‘dangers’, as we leverage those opportunities; including:

  • 1. Looking to premise public policy, promoting equity of neighbour and self; fostering solidarity.
  • 2. Ensure policies promoting balance between economy and ecology; assuming stewardship for sustaining a healthy environment.

- Glenn Fubler


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