If my father was alive today, he would surely have fired off some irreverent, borderline-offensive, and hilarious dad jokes about this situation in which we all find ourselves. He never took anything too seriously, but in his jokes and commentary, there was always some wisdom and a dash of irony.
The last several weeks have been a big challenge for everyone, and if in the beginning of this we found a way to poke fun at the absurdity of it all with some self-deprecating humor, that’s becoming less and less frequent now. It seems that we are running out of patience, running out of optimism even. And who can blame us? This is a once-in-a-century type of crisis, one that is making many world leaders exasperatedly say: “Why is this happening in my time? Why has this curse befallen our people and our homeland on my watch?”
And no, it doesn’t matter if you are a first-world or developing country, it seems you are screwed either way, with only two or three outliers out of 200+ countries that are actually handling this well. We have not had enough time or resources to gather sufficient accurate data to mount an effective defense against this novel pandemic.
Imagine being a nation’s leader responsible for millions of lives, having to make decisions that could mean a hundred thousand more deaths if you are wrong? Imagine that burden? It is easy to criticize, but I can tell you, there are very few people in the world right now that are capable of stepping up and taking the lead AND would want to do so without fear for their own lives.
That’s why I don't believe anyone who says they have the answers. Nobody has the answers at this point. Those who say that this will "magically go away" are either lying, stupid, or both.
I find myself instinctively wanting to say something funny or laugh at the absurdity of this situation, and yes I sometimes do so in private with very close friends and loved ones, but then I catch myself thinking that there is not much to laugh about.
I talked to several people who had just just ventured into some new industry this year, got a new promising job, had just started to become profitable in their business after years of struggle, had recently made a big investment in real estate for tourism, or moved to a new country to start a family, hopeful and optimistic about the future, and they are pretty much in a state of shock, like a long dark tunnel with no light at the end in sight. Multiply that by hundreds of millions, maybe even billions of people in the same situation, and that’s the state of our collective consciousness right now.
On top of all that, we are inching closer and closer to a dystopian surveillance state type of world where privacy will be an afterthought and discrimination will be rampant among the "green" and "red" zones of the world. Where’s the humor in that?
How do you even answer someone asking "How are you?" in these times?
But then, humor has this way of helping us find comfort in a situation that seems hopeless or desperate. It’s part of what makes us human. It helps us deal with difficult circumstances by reminding us that a lot of the things we think are important are actually absurdly trivial, and allows us to focus on what is truly important.
If you can still laugh, do so, as much as possible. There's a reason why it is called the best medicine. I just hope we don’t lose our sense of humor after all this is said and done.
In the meantime, I do remain optimistic about our chances of overcoming this crisis. I believe that it will force the best in us to come out and step up, to take these lemons and turn it into some wicked lemonade, and I’ll be here waiting for the right opportunity to say something witty and funny about it, like my dad would, but now is not that time.