And then there are the many who have suffered not just cabin fever but the greatest pain of all -- the death of family members and friends. To them, our hearts go out with inexpressible words for their tragedies.
So what have we learned from this grievous trauma we still are enduring? It is true that we observe the raw politicization of a medical emergency. The simple acts of washing hands, maintaining a safe distance and wearing masks have been exploited by some who disrespect the heroism of scientific medical groups working day and night to develop vaccines and distribute them as equitably as our geographical, governmental, and economic boundaries permit. It is true that some people seized upon the crisis of a viral contagion to sew rumors and mistrust. The hyper-paranoia of anger with and mistrust of well-meaning governmental officials and groups are fanned by social media, enabling displays of pseudo-defiance and fearful reluctance of others to act in the best interest of all. For God's sake, wear your mask; take the vaccine; endure the close of our bars, restaurants, theaters, and sports arenas!
But, of course, it is not that simple. We have been betrayed before. And now that everyone has an opinion about everything and a loud bullhorn that competes with others for the most attention, we can easily get lost in the soup of common ignorance.
So,what have we learned? At the end of the day, when we step out of the din of clamorous, blatant, boisterous, obstreperous, strident noise, we then listen to the muckraking investigations of our souls. We do know right from wrong, we do recognize falsehoods and phonies, and we do value the authentic voice of reason when it comes from the heart and speaks the truth of our soul. And are we not tired of the news sources that peddle sensationalism, fear, and paranoia?
So what have we learned form the pandemic? What has the pandemic exposed? What we have learned is what we already knew. What we have learned is what most of us have based our lives on. It is what is encoded within our religion and our democracy. It is anchored within our holy scriptures and embossed on the seal of our nation's motto.
What we have learned again is that we are one, really one. The virus COVID-19 does not attack just one race, one continent, one nation, one government, one religion, one sex, one gender, one age, one people. Each of us is vulnerable. There is no one, there is nowhere this aggressive coronavirus cannot reach. We are a common humanity, a common target of COVID.
As I said, the fact that we human beings are one people is not new to us. However, the pandemic has exposed our common life and our common vulnerability in a way that has gotten our attention. Our hubris took a blow; our optimism suffered an eclipse, and our hope for a prosperous future with unimpeded growth and success pressed the pause button in our race to the future. We have been led to rethink some choices of what the good life is: what it means to be alone, how much we value relationships, and the fact that we do not have forever to say to one another that we do care.
We are finite and small, living on a small planet traveling at a speed roughly of 67,000 miles per hour around the sun while spinning at approximately 1,670 mph (measured from the equator in both cases), while the sun and our solar system is moving at a speed of 448,000 mph; while our galaxy as a whole, the Milky Way, is hurtling through space at 70 miles per second. Our solar system will take some 230 million years to travel all around the Milky Way as it presses onward toward another galaxy, the Andromeda, which is rushing to meet us in millions of years.
These facts simply throw light on the immensity of this cold, dark universe "in which live, move, and have our being." It is a lonely journey, but we are one people. And we need each other, not just to combat the enemy of a very tenacious virus determined to kill us. We also need each other to bear with consciousness the burden of our solitude, not to depend upon distractions that divert our attention from our fateful rendezvous with the far reaches of our universe and the dangers that await us along the way.
This is a moment of one such danger that threatens the survival of human existence. And all along the way we have been being prepared with the realization that we are one. In religion, our evolutionary consciousness moved from the stage of polytheism to a monotheism with many faces. In geography, we have moved from a world of continents separated by deep, mysterious oceans to the prospect of a planetary consciousness. In the areas of race, we are developing a consciousness that the color of our skin cannot separate us. In our politics, we are learning that the demonization of any one group threatens the possibility of the other party to govern. And in our astro-physics, we see that the very planet on which we live, as viewed from outer space, is imperiled by the abuse of our waterway, our varied land masses, our vegetation, and the poisonous gases that hover over our heads and destroy the very air we breathe.
Here within our United States, we have pondered the meaning of our common existence by forming and restating the mottoes that adorn our governmental buildings and seals. In 1956, Congress adopted the motto, "In God We Trust." And we also have on our coins E Pluribus Unum, "Out of Many One." Another motto considered was Annuit Coeptis, "He Approves the Undertaking."
But one motto has received little attention: Novus Ordo Seclorum, "New Order for the Ages." Still we are struggling to claim the promise of this New Order, while the world waits and the pandemic does battle with our destiny.