Penciling in Life --- Monthly Column by Donald Dean Mace: Pandemic: The World in Crisis

Pandemic: The World in Crisis

Times are crazy, scary.  The world seems suddenly out of tilt, listing drastically into lunacy.  It seems like we’re on the downward slide into oblivion.  We’re not.  We’re falling prey to our own collective fears, we’re scrambling around lost in the madness of the moment.  We need to realize that and step back, take a deep breath, collect ourselves and count our blessings--most of us are just fine; exercise caution, yes, but do not panic.  The real danger lies in panic.  Panic will have us taking drastic actions that we’ll later regret, both as individuals and as nations.  Panic will have us running off of cliffs following scuttling and frightened crowds into an uncertain abyss.  We need to remember not to be reckless, as individuals, as people, as a world.  We’re in the middle of a pandemic.  A pandemic is a crisis.  A crisis is a crossroads, and a crossroads presents both danger and opportunity; and that’s where we’re at, we’re at a crossroads in the middle of a crisis faced both with danger and opportunity.  And we’ve been there before, many times, and survived to thrive.

One thing the pandemic has shown us is that we’re not as separate and as different as we sometimes like to believe.  A virus cares nothing about race, creed, nationalism, religion, class distinction, gender, or sexual preference, a virus sees only opportunity and a host.  It sees only people; it sees only flesh and blood bodies.  And that’s what we are, one people, one species, one single collection of homo-sapiens.  None of us are different under the skin: we’re all red meat, blood, guts, bones, tendons, cells and membranes. Remembering that can bring us together, it can bond us in this tough time.  Remind us to love each other.  To appreciate each other.  To learn from each other.  To help each other.  Another thing the pandemic has shown us is how badly we need each other, even if that is only to stand in solidarity temporarily six feet apart; oddly, in a bizarre twist on the divine dichotomy paradigm, this pandemic can unite us even as it disconnects us physically.  We need also to remember that one thing is absolutely certain, change.  Change, and that it is the valleys in life that make the peaks so spectacular; it is really the tough times that help us to appreciate the really good times.  And they will be back, the good times, and they will rush in like a tidal wave—It is the ebb and flow of things.  We need to keep that in mind.

It seems that nature has given us a startling wakeup call.  In our thoughts and in our actions, we tend to consider ourselves separate from the whole, detached from the entirety of this planet and its ecosystem; or sometimes even not to consider anything at all except our own selfish, self-important existence.  This pandemic has reminded us that we are still very much part of the natural order, subject to its rules and its regulations, and its laws, however much we might want to consider ourselves above or apart from it.  We are this planets’ wayward children, to be sure, and sometimes Mother Nature picks us up by the ear and gives us a good, hard shake.  We need to pay attention to the startle.  It’s an alarm sounding.  A warning.  What we do matters.  What we don’t do matters.  If we do nothing, that too matters.  While the planet takes in a breath of fresh air as everything comes to a sudden and screeching halt, we need to meditate on the beauty in the silence, we need to consider each other and our importance to one another, we need to contemplate the acumen, the wisdom and the balance of nature, and what all that means to us.  We need to take this opportunity to grow as a species.  We need to change something.  We need to change ourselves and how we do business.

We are in a crisis, a pandemic, and standing at a crossroads.  It is a dangerous place.  But it is a place that is filled also with real opportunity.  And we have a decision to make.  An important decision: We can stay where we are, we can go back, or we can choose one of the other three remaining directions.  The choice is ours—it always has been--individually and collectively, and any choice that we make carries with it a destiny.  In a very real sense, we are both the children and parents of history.  We should keep that in mind, not just for our own sake, but also for that of our children.  The first thing that we need to do is to avoid panic.  We also need to exercise caution and consideration, and to practice love, camaraderie, and solidarity—and to maintain strong fellowship in the face of adversity; and we need to use our greatest natural gifts, our cleverness and our intelligence.  We should keep in mind that one way or another, we will see this through and we will be the stronger as a result--We will leave the valley and begin our hike once again up to the mountain top.  We’re in a scary place, but we will get through this.  Here, I think it apropos to quote myself.  In the book I’m currently working on, “Notes for the Unwritten Child”, I wrote:

“We are on a walkabout, you and I, with one foot in the future and one in the past. Somewhere in the middle, our mind is wandering all over the place. It seems to me, the best place to be, is right here, right now, experiencing the moment and mindful of both of those feet.”

We may be having a tough time of it now, but with our heads where they need to be, our feet taking us in the right direction, we will see our way out of this, one step at a time.

Donald Dean Mace

Donald Dean Mace is an artist, poet, guitarist and freelance writer living and working quietly in Yuma, Arizona.  He has travelled the world extensively (Europe, Africa and Asia) and in the 1980’s and 1990’s lived and worked in Germany for a total of 10 years.  He has retired twice, once from the US Army and once from US federal service, both careers were in law enforcement.  He is currently working on a novel.  He has been published by Ariel Chart, the Yuma Daily Sun, the Arizona Western College Literary Magazine, his poetry was featured in a public service broadcast, and he was a guest on Mark Antony Rossi’s podcast, Strength to be Human.


  1. Sober and revealing. Nice take on the Corona mess without beating us over the head with a message.

  2. Best Corona piece I read during the crisis. Let's lock up these journalists and get this guy to write to us. He's honest.

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