I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times.”J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Because, if it had happened earlier I might have been part of the solution and not the problem.
I have lived through wars, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and political upheaval in many countries but the present threat makes these fade into insignificance.
Will it in any way cause us to resolve the inequities that determine that it is the minorities, the lowest income groups, those in poor health, and the poorly educated who will suffer the greatest negative impact on their already stressed lives?
Will good come from this disaster? Health care for all as a human right, less discrimination based on race and ethnicity, an end to homelessness, a living wage, or will the powerful become even more privileged and even more dominant as economic disparity widens the gap?
Will violent and aggressive protests increase as desperation mounts or will we come together like nations do in wartime?
Is this the beginning of a dark age of loss and world suffering or the birth throes of a new and more positive era?
I wonder how it will affect the lives of my close family, my wife, my son, his wife, our grandson, my friends all over the world.
I am made aware every day of how privileged I am to be able to contemplate the future as opposed to worrying about how to pay for or find the next meal.
I lie awake wondering if I will be here long enough to at least be part of that future.
Jonathan Smulian is a retired architect and urban planner who has worked in 26 countries and traveled in many more. He came to Houston for six months. Thirty-four years later, he lives quietly in the Heights with his artist wife. He writes memoirs, essays, short stories, and poetry and has recently had his works published in The Ocotillo Review, Wanderlust Journal, and Wanderlust Anthology of the best travel stories of 2019.
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