Sweet emotions of the soul

What on Earth do we make of this time?

Tragedies mount. Isolation bites. Bravery and selfless service by a minority pound the consciences of the majority.

We are denied contact, more aware than ever now how much we need to be together.

Nature amplifies and we HAVE TO notice how the planet is crying out.

2020 is questioning almost everything.

It is like we are in the eye of a storm, ignorant of direction and force, waiting for news like spooked characters in the unfolding disaster films that some – maybe, bizarrely, still do – find entertaining. (We never have).

Much is said about who will save us from the epidemic. Not a lot is said about who will save us from ourselves.

Fast forward to post vaccine. 2021. Will we scrabble to get back to what was 2019? How ugly will that be? Does Trump-The-Grotesque reflect all that we deserve? Or can we do better, much much better?

The economic fallout will be beyond intense, we all know that. The pressure is building fast to get back on the beast, although for a significant and growing number it is already too late with recession/depression taking livelihoods and loading mental health pressures across communities. We are not, though, as if it needs spelling out, all in this together. The poorest and most vulnerable, including some of the lowest paid people in society, are paying with more than money.

I said 2020 questions everything. It should. But will those with everything vested in the status quo, too many of whom are deciding policy at such a critical time, even listen?

This frightens me more than the virus. The values held by so many populist, male world leaders are diametrically opposed to what is essential now. I take it we have all noticed that the most positive, hopeful, caring responses have been in countries with women leaders.

If we learn nothing we deserve nothing. The here and now must be edifying. I give daily thanks for being part of such an inclusive, resilient and caring society, for what does not have a price - family and friends, home, village and comarca.

And I absolutely include my interdependence with nature in that. Yours too. We have to change our ways and take immediate and direct responsibility for sustaining all life. It is time to stop looking away.

How strange and significant it is that boxed in we can now see distance.

The air is as clear as it has ever been in our lifetimes. Friends in one of the major cities of the world, ten million strong, took to their flat roof to breathe. For the first time in the decades they have lived there they could see clean across the metropolis to the hills and farmland on the far side.

Most of us can now see all the more clearly the challenges of those already isolated and vulnerable in our societies, this shutdown shock defining, too, how hard it is to live on benefits and charity.

A positive. This face-mask moment means the eyes have it. The windows to our souls cannot tell a lie. The eye smile cannot be faked because, well, it is beyond our control. They call it the Duchenne smile, after the French anatomist, who defined that the muscle around the eye, the orbicularis oculi, will only be triggered into action by the “sweet emotions of the soul”.

And it is positively contagious.

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