I used to live in Venice, and as I now read the stories of the unexpectedly clear water in its canals with fish and ducks swimming past the ancient homes and palaces, I wish I could be back there (even if the web stories of dolphins in Venice are not true). When I lived there, motorboats churned up the mud in the canals and tourists clogged the streets, as they do every normal day.
Brussels, too, has been transformed in this coronavirus crisis – so much less traffic in the streets brings us clean air and quiet evenings. This is temporary, but the crisis gives us a glimpse of things we wish and struggle for, including a better environment for nature and humanity. And more caring among people. Sadly, when we read the news, we also must acknowledge that fear, scapegoating and the will to domination haven’t gone away in this time and may even be rising.
We know it’s a difficult moment; this crisis has brought hardships and tragedy. Here in Europe, over 100,000 people have died so far in the global pandemic. In our community, we mourn the passing of Fadel Erian, a former President of EUU and NUUF who regularly came to retreats from his home in Washington state, where he recently died from coronavirus. (See the next Unifier for more about Fadel.)
How can we move towards a world that’s just a bit closer to our principles once this crisis is over, including the goal of world community and respect for the interdependent web of being?
I think that the answer comes in part from caring – for ourselves, for each other and for the wider world. As the International UU Women’s Convocation wrote recently, Now is the Time for Community, Solidarity, and Love (the IWC regularly meets online). Even if each of our contributions is small, we can learn and work together for something greater.
And we need to take care of ourselves and each other in this strange and anxious time. EUU’s online gatherings have taken off, from morning coffee hours to Sunday services: please take look at the upcoming events. I’d like to mention one recent gathering: Shulamit Levine-Helleman led a wonderful seder meal in which we ate together while learning about and discussing the UU values that emerge from the Exodus story and its themes of freedom and rebirth for ourselves and the world. I’d like to thank Shulamit and everyone who is organizing these online events that bring us together!