The Pandemic As A Welcome Lesson In Humility

The coronavirus crisis has been stressful and tedious. But it's also a reminder that we can't have everything we want, when we want it. And that, in many ways, is a good thing.

The pandemic also offers some benefits.
The pandemic also offers some benefits.
Ignacio Zuleta Lleras


What a drag. It's so exhausting. I can't take it any more. These are the kinds of everyday complaints that come with the pandemic, and they're understandable, because here in Bogota — and in London, Delhi and everywhere else — the situation really is an energy drain.

Toxic emotions currently occupy considerable space in our minds. We find it hard to concentrate, and become pessimistic and listless. The body becomes confused as regular cycles are broken: We can't sleep properly, maybe grind our teeth at night. As a species, we're fighting to adapt.

But while this situation fuels negative thoughts as part of the way we process data in life, it also brings some marvelous novelties, not the least of which is uncertainly, which can actually be a blessing in disguise.

We're used to a certain "I want and I will" approach to life, and right now that's just not possible. And because this society of instant gratification is allergic to patience and ill-trained to accept frustrations, it panics when it cannot control events. That in itself is exhausting.

In reality, even those who have the dubious privilege of being able to work remotely will find it hard to keep regular hours as the lines between work and home life are blurred. We must care for the family, cook or tend to the home while facing the implacable reality of work on a screen, and this is especially the case with working women. Effectively they undertake three minimal working days in a day, with no labor code to protect them from overwork or exhaustion.

In the absence of a basic universal income here, which the government has skirted around and will do so as long as it can through this and subsequent lockdowns, all those without work at home must don a homemade face mask and go out to make a living. They're perfect fodder for exploitation and extended hours — and employers can always blame the pandemic!

Uncertainly can actually be a blessing in disguise — Photo: Daria Nepriakhina

The exhaustion in Colombia is physical. But make no mistake, it's political as well!

And yet, the pandemic also offers some benefits. By pulling the curtain back on some painful inequalities, it may trigger fundamental changes around the world, especially with the second wave of infections now hitting Europe. The uptick in cases there may be a prelude to more waves that will make the changes even more necessary, even if they must happen under duress or fear.

Our hidden resources emerge under the pressure of hostile surroundings

Events are forcing us to consider outside realities, but also to look inside ourselves for purpose. We may be wondering what our lives mean. Threats strip our life goals bare like surgery without anesthesia. Without them, life may become painful and depressing, but this may precede a recovery toward a healthier spirit. and that's because anxiety is an unexplored source of creativity and resilience that is usually only approached by the brave or saintly. Our hidden resources emerge under the pressure of hostile surroundings, when they might have remained hidden and dormant.

Uncertainty has recovered its rightful place as an essential part of existence, without the comforts and structures we use to cushion our lives. We are not in control. Science is not an all-powerful god and, believe it or not, Google can't answer all of our questions.

As we do not know what will happen tomorrow, the wisdom is to follow the age-old counsel of living in the present. One day at a time, trusting in God, loosening our expectations and letting go of the absurd ideas about control. It's better now to be a humble bamboo that bends with the wind than a colossal, and unyielding tree that could come crashing down.

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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