Friday, October 23, 2020

The Final Solution: We vs. I

Martin Buber

Martin Buber famously coined the term “Ich und Du” (“I and Thou”). The pandemic and its current comorbidities economic and racial inequality have created a condition of universal collective trauma. Usually there's a solace in discovering that one’s personality has been adversely affected by a circumstance that’s unique. Now when you’re about to complain or explain you tend to be stopped in your tracks by the fact that everyone is the victim of the same conditions. Even victims of the virus can't complain since so many people have it. There's always someone worse off than you. It’s neither good nor bad, but the pandemic has made people think in the first-person plural. It’s a “we vs. I” universe--an enormous change bought at the price of great suffering and also not likely to endure, past the pandemic, considering the proclivity of animate beings to individuate. While most people are confined or at the very least practicing a good deal of social distancing, they will inadvertently be given an opportunity to step back (every time they start feeling sorry for themselves) and realize they’re part of a greater whole.

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