I’m with you, uno?
I feel especially grateful and blessed that I have something to be invested in (Zoom University?) that keeps my mind off my personal situation. However, I find it really hard to ignore the many other people in this world who can’t afford the luxury of putting concerns on the backburner like I have, those whose concerns affect them so greatly that they have to deal with them now.
Take for example the week when Brown first announced the transition to online education. I was only a short flight (or a drive, even) away to nearby Detroit, so I was pretty set. However, I didn’t ~feel~ set as this wasn’t the case for the overwhelming majority of my friends. Let’s take a look at what some of my friends from India went through
Because international flights are incredibly expensive, they booked their flights for mid-May early on as a part of roundtrip tickets from January’s arrival. Cool.
*Brown announces they are kicking students off campus.*
These friends rebooked their flights towards the end of the move-out period to say their goodbyes, pack, and leave.
*India is closing its borders, effective in a few days.*
At this point, they started to panic. They again rebooked their flights to leave a few days earlier than planned before.
*Government halts all air traffic to Europe except through London, effective almost immediately.*
I was in the middle of a South Asian Culture Show dance rehearsal on Wednesday night when news of this broke out. One second, I’m sitting in the dark auditorium of Salomon watching other groups “rehearse” for a show that will never actually materialize, and the other second, I hear a bunch of Indian nationals in the lobby screaming over the phone to their parents to get their flights rebooked through London asap. One of my friends had to gather what she could and leave that same night at 4 am, leaving the rest of her stuff behind for a relative in the US to drive over and sort out. Another friend just gave up on going back to her parents altogether, thinking it would be impossible to get there with all the rebookings, restrictions, and cost; she went to Houston instead to stay at an uncle’s for the time being (she’s still there). Afraid to simply stand around, I helped in the small ways I could. Empathy sure hits hard when the people affected are those you care about.
As the prompt for this blog, the Vatican II’s Constitution on the Church in the Modern World begins with the following sentence:
The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men and women of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.
To me this phrase means that I need to adopt the circumstances of the general public as my own, that what affects them also affects me as well. I think this is what helps establish the humble brotherhood and sisterhood we have with each other in Christ. Even though I was able to accomplish this with my Indian friends to some small extent, it’s still something I struggle with when it comes to strangers I know nothing about.
This whole thing reminds me of a popular card game, Uno, actually. If I’m one of the players, I wouldn’t be able to see the hands other players have. They could have any card as far as I’m aware. When it’s my turn, I may not have the same color card or a wild card, but I may have another card with the same number but different color that I can put down. I inevitably change the color of play for the rest of the group, but the player next to me may not have any card in their hand that works with the card I had just placed. The whole excitement of the game stems from seeing how our actions affect each other as we all try to get rid of our hands.
Similarly, we don’t always understand the life circumstances others hold in their hand. Sometimes we don’t even know what to make of the circumstances in our own hand, but we play it anyway. Therefore, we should adopt the “Uno” mindset that whatever situation one is placed in, it’ll come around to affect us, too. In fact, our Christian faith calls us to align our efforts and support one another in what we go through. This establishes family, community, and friendships; many say these are the joys they are experiencing now, even from home.
As I write this on Good Friday, I think about how Jesus had his life “well set”. There was no personal reason for him to suffer on the cross for us, but with the sinful chaos around him, God’s greater purpose for Christ was to serve as the ultimate sacrifice, to forgive us of our sins, to save us from our own plights. We typically emphasize a sense of reflection and awareness during Lent and a sense of gratitude during the Triduum, but I think it’s also important to ponder what we can emulate from Holy Week in our own lives as well. Important now more than ever, as we celebrate Jesus’s triumph over death, let us celebrate each other’s triumph over our own obstacles. Perhaps we can be the “well set” Jesus who still sacrifices our time through prayer and encouragement for someone else (no matter how distant they are from us) while their travel plans to India turn on them three times in three days. Perhaps we can be a community who shares the understanding that a game of Uno - not knowing what card is to be dealt next - is better played together rather than alone.
Naveen Abraham is a freshman concentrating in Public Health and sent us this post from Detroit, MI.