It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going to heaven, we were all going the other way, in short, the period was so far like the present period….
Most will recognize this quote as the opening paragraph of the Tale of Two Cities written by Charles Dickens and published in 1859. The story was set within the backdrop of the French revolution in the late 1700 period.
So, what is the point you may ask? “The period was so far like the present period…”. True we are not butchering people with a guillotine, but I can’t help comparing the cultural upheaval of the time to the pandemic situation we find the world in today. The anxiety, the fear, the uncertainty, the upheaval in daily routines, the economic turmoil, and the effect that they all have on the human psychic.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”. Well, it isn’t hard to believe that today is the worst of times. After all, we are hammered constantly by the papers, the talking heads on TV, and politicians that it is all doom and gloom and all may be lost. However, I would submit that this is not the worst of times. Yes, perhaps it is the worst of times for the younger generations, but it is not the worst of times for others, nor in history. Yes, many will die from this virus. However, far fewer than in other pandemics, and in several wars, the American civil war and two world wars among them. Those deaths were not all soldiers either. Tens of thousands of civilians died from hunger, abuse, disease, and exposure then.
Please understand that I’m not making light of the current situation, just trying to put it in some rational scope and framework. So, yes it is a bad time, but perhaps not the worst of times.
“It was the best of times…” may be a bit harder to get our heads around in the face of the pandemic that is impacting most of the world. But, if we can cut through the finger-pointing, the schoolyard scrapping of political figures, the scrabbling for a stronger power base, the hidden agendas, and the legions of people trying to fatten their purses due to greed then perhaps we can see some silver in the lining of this cloud.
Look at all the money you are saving by not going to your favorite restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues. (Yes, I understand that thousands are facing more difficult economic difficulties than others.)
Look at the chance you have to improve your bonding with others in the household.
Look at the time you can use to reflect on what is really important in life and what you can do with your future.
Look at the opportunities to create better relationships at work, in the neighborhood, and the extended family once this is past us.
Look at the chance to reassess what is really important in your life. Things, money, relationships, strengthening religious beliefs.
Look at what you have learned about being ready for a crisis.
So, what do you see as the silver lining (s)?