A Christian Perspective from CIU President and CEO Anthony J. Cernera, Ph.D.
In the midst of this Covid 19 pandemic there is wisdom to be gleaned if we pay attention. It is the wisdom of the ages which is so often forgotten in the daily living of life, in ordinary times. We can use this moment to remember those truths, which are most important for human living and which are so often forgotten. Let me just mention four.
Perhaps the most important lesson is that we are all members of one human family, and are not separated one from the other. Walls and barriers diminish our humanity while bridges of caring and love, by nations and people working together in solidarity, bring us past this crisis and perhaps into a new and better place. Our common humanity is enhanced when we are loving and merciful.
We can focus on and honor the countless examples of extraordinary love and service every day in every part of the world. Those living examples of people caring for others in dramatic ways and in simple hidden ways show us our humanity at its best.
The second lesson to be learned is the importance of faith and hope. It is so easy — and understandable — to be afraid in the midst of this pandemic. But fear cripples us and paralyses us. Our religious traditions call us to trust God and the power of love and mercy, even in the darkest and most turbulent moments. For Christians, the Easter season just past reminds us that at the heart of our faith is the conviction that God brings life out of death. Hope is born in the midst of that radical trust in the One who is greater than us and who hears the cries of the poor and afflicted and who does not abandon us. Such faith and hope gives us the courage to respond with love and generosity to those in need.
The third lesson, and perhaps the hardest, is that we must be mindful and helpful to those most vulnerable to Covid-19. It is understandable in the midst of this crisis to turn inward and think only about family and our own particular community. But our religious faiths call us to remember and respond to the “least among us.” In our world today there are 72,000,000 women, children, and men who have been forcibly displaced from their homes — refugees and internally displaced peoples. These people are among the most forgotten and the most afflicted in our world. Already so vulnerable, their suffering now is even greater because of the spreading pandemic and the onslaught of famine due to dramatic food shortages. We must never forget them and seek ways to be of help. In so doing, we also preserve our own humanity.
Finally, the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church, in Gaudium et Spes invited Catholics and all people of good will to “read the signs of the times,” to respond to them in the Spirit of Jesus and the Hebrew prophets. The Covid-19 pandemic is certainly a “sign of the times” that call us to rededicate ourselves to the sacred work of embodying the dream of Jesus and the Prophets, of the reign of justice and mercy and love. Each of us in our own way and through our communities of faith are called to act justly, to love one another, especially the most vulnerable, and to call out the best in one another.
A Muslim Perspective from CIU Advisory Board member Suhail Kahn
At this time of extraordinary difficulty and challenge, I wish to extend my heartfelt prayers for strength, patience and healing in our troubled world. We are joined together as one humanity in facing this global pandemic, and together we will undoubtedly overcome this harrowing calamity.
As we continue to grapple with the hardship, illness and regrettably the many deaths due to the virus that grips our societies, it is important to remember that we are not alone and that our Lord holds us all in His loving hands.
Time and time again, we are reminded “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23. “For indeed, with hardship will be ease.” Al-Inshirah (Solace or Comfort) 94:5.
And we should not give in to the paralysis of fear. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid” Psalm 27:1.
It is especially at times such as these that we need to be courageous, and I’m so grateful for the health care providers, the researchers, those who are growing and working to provide us food, the teachers and so many others who are selflessly providing care, comfort and indeed hope for all of us.
As we continue to grapple with the illness, loss and hardship, let us strive to renew our bonds of family, friendship, and common humanity. And as we endeavor to secure a cure, to provide solace for the afflicted, particularly the elderly, the poorest of us and the growing numbers of unemployed, let us be strive to be courageous and compassionate.
In doing so, we will work to ease suffering to better the human condition, to undoubtedly find a cure and to do so as one shared humanity.
A Jewish Perspective from Past CIU Chairman Angelica Berrie
My thoughts are with all of you as this virus sweeps across the world. This moment is a test of our shared humanity, a time for global solidarity, a return to the human connection.
In this global crisis, people are reaching out in creative and inspiring ways – singing to our neighbors, applauding health care workers, performing free concerts from home, spreading spontaneous acts of loving kindness. Today, more than ever, our spiritual kinship with all people and all nations is the best antidote to the virus.
Every crisis offers a lesson for the future. This pandemic created a pause in climate change, giving the earth a breather from polluting industries and human commercial activity. It is my prayer that this global reset triggers a spiritual consciousness that will change our lives in ways that will outlive this virus.
What a moment to pause and reflect on how the past weeks have transformed our lives. The gift of time in global quarantine offers a sabbatical for the renewal and nourishment of our souls. It is my hope that we emerge from this period of enforced solitude to make meaningful, intentional choices in our lives.
When the dust settles, the reality of how little we need, how much we already have and the true value of human connection should enrich our perspective long after this plague has passed.
Much like the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt that we commemorated each year during Passover – we are now journeying together toward an unknown reality.
Then, as well as now, this passage through unknowing is illuminated by the capacity of the human spirit to rise in courage and compassion to build the most resilient threads of our soul. The essence of the Biblical redemption story is reflected in today’s epic passage through global uncertainty.
In every generation, we are obligated to see ourselves as if we were personally liberated from slavery. Passover embodies this spiritual courage to persevere in the face of great adversity.
The miracle of our passage through the Red Sea embodies spiritual courage to persevere in the face of great adversity and is a message – to have faith and believe we can part the waters to make a difference in this world.
It is now our sacred task to part the waters with kindness, radical empathy and generosity wherever we are in this world.