There’s currently an uptick in COVID cases in many parts of New York, and obviously at the highest levels of the U.S. government. The timing of this latest wave is coinciding with the start of the Sukkot holiday.
But it’s not a coincidence.
Everything in life happens according to patterns, which we can see if we stop to look.
There’s a reason this is happening now, just like there’s a reason that all of these disruptions have happened this year.
Lesson: The Danger of Complacency
The lesson here is about the danger of complacency.
The pandemic forced us to adopt new practices and rituals to keep ourselves safe: wearing masks, washing hands, sanitizing spaces. Maintaining a high-level of vigilance over an extended period of time is hard; willpower and discipline take you only so far before you wear out.
The concept of caution fatigue says that we grow tired of the repeated warnings and we begin to tune them out. And yet without the pressing reminder to maintain our practices, we may become complacent. If we’re not getting sick, we think we’re in the clear. We let our guard down.
Similarly, in life, it’s easy to get settled in a job or a home or a routine. When we have a comfortable home and a comfortable life we might forget where we came from and what it was like when we had less. We might lose touch with the struggle.
At the end of his life, Moses warned the Jewish people that the biggest test of their faith would come in times of abundance in the promised land, when they would forget about the miracles that God performed for them during their time in desert.
Complacency can cause us to forget our faith and can also keep us from moving forward and taking risks. We can be paralyzed by our comfort.
Complacency is a barrier to greatness. Human beings are meant to move, to evolve, to grow.
The Antidote to Complacency
The antidote to complacency is disruption. We need periodic shakeups to force us to move, to take action, and even to rest … in faith. The antidote to complacency is to live, not in fear, but with awareness of the impermanence of life and the insecurity of the world.
The holiday of Sukkot is an antidote to complacency. Once a year, it forces us from the comfort of our homes to remind us of the journey our ancestors took, to reinvigorate our faith.
This is no coincidence. Everything is divinely orchestrated. We are being called to shake off our complacency and to remember why we are here.