When I was in Hawaii, Gabriela and I visited two historic Hawaiian sites. One was a fisherman’s village with a seven hundred year history, the other was the birthplace of Kamehameha, the Hawaiian King and the site of the Temple to the Whale. Here is what I wrote after visiting the two sites.
“Both historic sites had places dedicated to the gods where the gods were thanked. Fishermen gave a portion of their catch each day. There were other sacred sites in the village. Besides Kamehameha’s huge stone monument there were several other places for giving thanks to the gods in the village.
At these historic sites it seemed these people understood the unpredictability and tentative fragile nature of life in a way that kept them in touch with the spirits. The gods everyday were acknowledged and thanked, part of everyday life. Plain to see these shrines were an integral part of their world. In tune with life in this way they would have accepted events both good and bad as part of life and living”.
Now reading “The Plague” by Camus I have an even better understanding of both the people who inhabited these ancient sites, and people today as the reality of the pandemic comes into focus. For Camus, for the people of Oran, his plague town, it was an existential dilemma. There were a variety of ways people could deal with the dilemma. Denial foremost, the feeling that it would not touch oneself, just others. I can see that the realization and understanding, how fragile life is runs counter to the culture we have worked so hard to create. Yet a world without tragedy when seen in this way is absurd, thus the existential dilemma, the virus, the plague presents.
Yet, like the fisherman seven hundred years ago understood, life is a fragile gift we have been given. We should give thanks everyday for this life and accept and understand the temporal, fragile nature of our existence. The plague is with us everyday.