by Eva Knausenberger
On the first day of 2021 a memorable conversation stands out for me because two words were mentioned: "worthy opponent". A friend my age remembered her mother; their past relationship was difficult and beset by misunderstandings. – I know quite a few 'children' who have or had difficulties with their parents; – yet what I found so remarkable were the words my friend said: "my mother is no longer a worthy opponent" she has Alzheimer's.
Lest you think that this is a dismissive remark, let me tell you that it wasn't meant that way. A worthy opponent is someone worth facing and arguing with, in the hope that understanding, a peaceful and fruitful togetherness is possible when we meet on common ground rather than on opposite sides.
However, an opponent is nowadays understood to be the enemy, someone who must be silenced and taken out of action. Opposing viewpoints tend to divide people. Covid 19 is a prime example because even though invisible, Covid-infectiousness threatens us all. Is Covid a worthy opponent? I imagine, that if we treat the virus as the enemy, it will become an enemy; If we treat it as a challenge to learn healing strategies, – not only our physical bodies but the damaged, abused, polluted physical world and our relationship to both, we may well find that Covid is a friend, albeit a stern and unforgiving one if we fail to be worthy of the challenge.
Is worthiness worth fighting for? What is it anyway? A picture comes to mind of Jacob wrestling with the angel: "I will not let you go unless you bless me".
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