The gambler has left the table, and a bug has called our bluff.
For fear of the virus, our global village abandoned our streets, shut down our commerce, schools and industry, and shuttered us inside our homes amid the concept of social distancing.
COVID played its card and we folded. An organism we cannot see that could potentially kill us called our bluff – on giving in to the tug of tribalism, on continuing with our consumptive lifestyles – as individuals and as nations – while insisting we are preserving our precious natural resources.
Then over the weekend, we lost “The Gambler” Kenny Rogers. He has done to us what he pleaded with “Lucille” and “Ruby” not to do – leave.
We still have cards on the table, though, and the ace is ace among them is politics. Can we move out of our comfort zone and power through our differences in order to see and accomplish a shared future? Can we counter the tug of tribalism and pull together as our forebearers did during World War II?
To do that we’ll need to take incremental but bold steps, as the very oldest among us did then, not just accept but embrace sacrifice and see ourselves first and foremost as Ameri-Cans.
Or is that new bluff – that we can continue to posture and retreat amongst like minds and still somehow survive? That we can ignore science for platitudes, wisdom for soundbites and morality for expediency?
There are other cards on the table as well – racism, sexism, ageism. There’s pride and prejudice and sloth and lust and all the other golden oldies to boot. Each of them demands a decision of us.
While we’re all but shut indoors, concentrating on the things we cannot do, something has started to happen in far-flung spots on the globe. Our planet began to heal. Dolphins and swans have reappeared in the now-clear waters of Venice and NASA images showing vastly improved air quality in China where factories were shuttered, among other observed instances of a cleaner world.
We don’t know how long any of that will last, but maybe it will just long enough for us to learn Mother Nature’s intended lesson: She can throw at us things for which we are completely unprepared, for which we have no precedent, defense or offense.
It’s time to decide about those cards on the table. Do we hold ‘em, or do we fold’em?