A Christmas like no other

A Christmas like no other

THIS will be a Christmas like no other. We must all resign ourselves to this reality. We must give up on the idea that we can brush off Covid-19 and give it the finger as if bravado was enough to put normalcy back in our lives.

A vaccine will help, but let’s give up on the notion that that, too, will put normalcy back in our lives. Vaccines will not do it, at least not immediately. What a vaccine will do is slowly stitch up the wounds that the pandemic has wrought on society. It is the start of healing, literally and figuratively, but not immediately.

What we must realize, if we haven’t by now, is that the fight against Covid-19 will be won or lost with us. Frankly, it is infuriating to see and hear people, the so-called “anti-maskers” and “freedom lovers,” chant and shout out to the world their commitment to fight for their rights and freedoms that more often than not start with a condemnation of a simple mask. A piece of cloth worn over the mouth and nose has become a symbol of misplaced, if not ridiculous, politics.

If anything, Covid-19 has exposed what is wrong with humanity. It has revealed how selfish and utterly absurd people can get in the face of a deadly pandemic. Doctors tell us Covid-19 attacks our respiratory system, much like pneumonia only infinitely worse. It turns out that the virus also attacks our sense of decency and compassion, and our capacity to be considerate towards our fellow men and women. Heck, it even attacks our common sense. In this context, Covid-19 is truly a deadly pandemic like no other.

It is equally exasperating that while society reels from the effects of the pandemic, leaders who should otherwise lead, do not. Instead, they play to the politics of their constituency and become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

But being the season that it is, I would rather focus on what we all can do, individually and collectively, for each other. When faced with annoying moments brought about by annoying people, Filipinos have the perfect foil: “habaan ang pasensya” (stretch your patience). Perhaps this will be an apt mantra in a Covid-tainted Christmas.

Most of us are cooped up in our homes. Environment Canada says we have to brace for a very cold winter going into January and February next year (imagine 2020’s tentacles creeping in just as the door slowly closes to usher in 2021). We can’t do the things we normally do during the Christmas season, and we are told that we should pass up on traditional family gatherings and reunions. It’s hard let to the merry season pass without the merriment. It’s like Noche Buena by your lonesome, dining on sardinas and pandesal. It’s not right.

What’s also not right is to throw caution to the wind, break the rules, and celebrate the season as we and our families have for decades. This will be a Christmas like no other. But as pitiful as that sounds, let’s consider the true spirit of Christmas, one that revolves generosity, kindness, and compassion.
If there was ever a time where we have to be generous, kind, and compassionate, let it be this Christmas, when our world is reeling from a pandemic and all sorts of disasters natural and man-made. Let’s stay home if we can, avoid social gatherings, and practice safe distancing. Let’s keep ourselves safe because that’s how we keep our friends and family safe, and that’s how we keep our communities safe.

Have a merry, meaningful Christmas. As my former boss always said during the Christmas season: “lilipas din yan” (this too shall pass). He was talking about Christmas, but he could very well have been talking about Covid-19.

He and two other computer security experts said bar codes on ballots and smartphones in voting locations could give hackers a chance to rewrite results in ways that couldn’t be traceable, short of sampling of ballots or hand recounts — and those work only in cases where there’s a paper trail.

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