A Spring of Kindness in a Year of Sickness

A Spring of Kindness in a Year of Sickness March 24, 2020

Hello, beautiful creatures.

Welcome to Spring, 2020. The Sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, and a vast majority of the populated world is in the grip of a pandemic. Coronavirus disease 2019—variously known as novel coronavirus, COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2—is everyone’s least favorite, most tiresome conversational topic. For some of us, COVID-19 has become an unwelcome guest in our homes and workplaces. For all of us, this is the reality of our lives.

I’m not here to share with you the uplifting insights we can glean from our Pagan or polytheist practices, nor to sell you on a bucolic vision of the world healing from the ills of humanity. For the former, there are writers far better suited to the task, here on Patheos and elsewhere in the Pagan/polytheist blogosphere. The latter is essentially a stalking-horse for ecofascism, and I hope you all know me well enough by now to guess how I feel about that pile of feces.

As the pandemic forces into hermitage all of us with any kind of reasonable survival instinct and jobs or circumstances which allow us to do so, I’m here to ask a favor of all of you reading these words:

Be kind.

Seeking human kindness.
Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash.
A couple of months ago, I wrote an article for Llewellyn about life lessons I’ve learned from doing magic. The fifth and final lesson was, “Whenever possible, be kind.” I summarized it as follows:

Perhaps it sounds corny, but it’s true: all of us struggle at one time or another, and few of us are at our best when we’re struggling. It behooves those of us who would seek to hold and wield power, magically or otherwise, to let kindness be our default setting, especially when dealing with those who have less power than we do.

The world is a scary place at the best of times, and I think we can all agree that right now, these are far from the best of times. Folk are dying from this disease, and more are going to die, largely because our scientific researchers are starting at a disadvantage and our medical infrastructures are overwhelmed. People I know and love have contracted COVID-19, and more are going to. The same is almost certainly true for you. Some of our loved ones may well die.

That’s a horrible thing to read. Believe me, I know. It’s a horrible thing to type. That it’s a true thing makes it no less awful, and it’s an awfulness we can’t rationalize or argue our way out of. Nature, red in tooth and claw, makes no concessions to morality, ethics, virtue, values, character, or pleas for mercy. If we want mercy, if we want kindness, we have to extend it to one another.

So, all you beautiful creatures—longtime fans, first-time readers, personal friends, and scathing critics alike—please, please be kind to one another. Practice kindness, until it becomes as much a tool in your arsenal of survival skills as social distancing.

What does that look like? Well, it looks different for each of us, and in all of our circumstances, and I can’t give you any set rules. However, like any good pirate, I can suggest a few guidelines.

Remember that we’ve all been thrust into this radically uncertain situation together, and we’re all scared. Scared people act and react in unpredictable ways which don’t reflect the clearest thinking. Try to be patient with others. Take a breath before responding to things, and never ascribe to malice what can be adequately chalked up to fear, anxiety, and bad information.

Speaking of bad information, there’s a lot of it out there, much of it coming from the highest offices in the land. I encourage you, in the strongest possible terms, to disregard any and all medical advice or opinions that isn’t coming from medical professionals, or from people who are following their express recommendations1. Starting places for reliable scientific information include the World Heath Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites.

And I know it sucks being forced by circumstances to do things you don’t want to do, or to not do things you want to do, and I know that the loss of income is a real threat… but unless you work in a field essential to the continuance of society—that is, unless you’re a first responder, or unless you work in healthcare, infrastructure, food, and so on—for the love of all that is sacred, please, please stay home. Stay safe. Don’t get yourself sick, don’t get anyone else sick.

That, too, is kindness: “a behavior marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern and consideration for others,” as Wikipedia would have it. “It is considered a virtue, and is recognized as a value in many cultures and religions.”

Of course, the myriad traditions and paths which make up the modern Pagan and polytheist spiritual movement have no unifying moral code or set of values intrinsic to their practice, but they do share at least one commonality: they’re all practiced by human beings. And right now, all of us human beings could use a little kindness.

Until next time, dear ones, be kind. ♥

  1. Yes, I’m telling you to ignore anything the President of the United States has to say. (You’re shocked? Oh! Sorry, you must be new here. As a general rule, I tell everyone to ignore anything that buffoon says. It’s kind of a whole thing with me.)
About Misha Magdalene
Misha Magdalene (Seattle) is a multiclassed, multi-geek, multiqueer witch and sorcerer with a degree in gender studies and a slightly odd sense of humor. Their first book, Outside the Charmed Circle: Exploring Gender and Sexuality in Magical Practice, was published by Llewellyn in January 2020. They're an initiate of multiple lines of traditional witchcraft, including Anderson Feri and Gardnerian Wicca, and have also been known to dabble recklessly in both modern ceremonial magic and grimoiric goetia. They've been blogging since 2001, negotiating the online world since 1987, playing Dungeons & Dragons since 1981, and listening to weird music since birth. They live on occupied Duwamish territory in the Pacific Northwest with their polymath partner, their precocious daughter, far too much coffee-making apparatus, and two adorably destructive black kittens. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and their very own website, or lurking somewhere around the Seattle area, usually hiding behind a cup of coffee. You can read more about the author here.

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2 responses to “A Spring of Kindness in a Year of Sickness”

  1. I was on my way to work last Saturday, and I was feeling pretty fed up with all the school closings, the restrictions…. Yep, pretty much everything to do with this nasty virus was beginning to bug me. I’m a grocery sort worker (I bag the groceries), and on my way to work, I just happened to notice there were buds on the tree next to my house. The birds were chirping. The sky was blue. So I thought, I’m just going to focus on what a nice day it is. I was commenting on what a nice day it was with nearly everyone in the store; I figured if I could keep their spirits up, it might help me feel better, too. One guy who came in the store said “Thank you for being here”. Just goes to show that even in the darkest of times, there will always be light.

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