“We are not all in the same boat”, the title of the digital post last month written by one who obviously is under quarantine. This piece, in fact, has generated many other ideas and reflections. Much has been said on the now over bloated slogan, “we are all in the same boat”. But is it really true or is the opposite true that “we are not all in the same boat”? It seems to me that we are on different boats but under the same storm. Here is the composition of my fleet made up of the different types of “boats”.
The “boat that is the person”. “Different folks, different strokes”. The person being unique has a particular way of confronting or reacting to the virus that led to quarantine. One’s individuality and uniqueness play a decisive role. The quarantine could be an occasion to be the “best” of what one can be, or it could be the other way around.
The “boat of the family”. While the social-economic standing of the family seems to predominate more in confronting the quarantine — of having less, or much, or just enough — in accessing to the basic necessities of life, there are emotional and spiritual ones that affect the members of the family as well. But let me emphasize the positive elements: family members getting much closer, more caring and communicative to one another, minus their digital gadgets; prayer as family or as an individual becomes vital, with moments of recreation and games together during the day. Indeed, the family that prays and plays together loves one another. With this particular “boat of the family”, one can further reflect on the larger “boats of the neighbourhood, the nation, the world”.
The “boat of the front-liners”. Much have been said about this new breed of persons, especially the doctors and nurses, going to war against an invisible enemy, minus guns, helmets, tanks and armoured cars. These new heroes move around with faith and courage to save lives, despite the fear of being contaminated themselves by the virus, in their PPEs oftentimes inadequate, and giving comfort and moral support to the sick who live in agonizing loneliness. We heartily thank and salute these fighting multitudes — many of whom have already fallen — praying for them, even supporting them with their materials needs like food and shelter. Among the good Samaritans, in many places of the world, we count the many Paulines who, aside from praying, have contributed according to their possibilities in preparing food, facemasks and face shields and, perhaps, some safe places to stay in order that these “saints next door” would not contaminate their own families.
The “boat of religious affiliation”. Is the pandemic God’s punishment? A wake-up call how we should behave towards God, people and nature? Those who have faith expect that miracles could happen even today; for others the worst is still to come. I like what Pope Francis said on that unforgettable evening of 27 March during the “Extraordinary Moment of Prayer during the Pandemic”: «“Be converted!”, “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to You, Lord, and to others».
The “boat of politics”. From media information and personal experience, how do we gauge our politicians, regardless of whether they thrive in less-developed, developing or well-developed countries? “Who”, “what” are their priorities: the people or their position; the common good or their personal agendas? Politics understood in its ideal form of governance of people, may the available resources, knowledge and technologies be for the service of the people and the common good, even extending to the whole world, in the spirit of justice and love. The goods for sharing must also be pandemic. Just think of how a virus originating in an isolated place could plague the whole-wide world!
The “boats of the “I”, power and wealth”. We can connect these to the three temptations of Jesus. Given so much time during the quarantine, we can “google” for better reflections and commentaries on the subjects. These three “boats” also affect all of us on all levels: personal-individual, social-communitarian, ecclesial-congregational and environmental-universal.
The “boat of the Pauline mission”. Everybody these days, personal or institutional, is into digital media, especially social media. With regard to our specific mission, especially in the digital environment, what makes our Pauline “media” different from the rest? May they not simply be pandemic, that is generic, but marked by the colour that is Paul’s.
Actually, we are all really in the same boat, the boat that is our “common home”, overwhelmed by the same storm. May we take extra good care of it as God wanted it since the creation of the world so that it become much purer, peaceful and liveable for all. The virus is temporary, but the pandemic Mercy of God for all is forever.