COVID Diaries: Its Impact on My Friend Merica

The COVID Diaries feature visual art, including photography, and written testimonials reflecting on life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Submissions from across the NEOMED community are welcome; see the submission guidelines below.

"Physicians, trained to focus on the needs of individual patients, often view systems as localized to a single person. Social scientists, by comparison, focus on broader phenomena not constrained to the individual. Regardless, many of the social phenomena we explore are simply macrocosms of the individual patient. And that parallel helps me to understand better the immeasurable impact COVID19 has had on my worldview of the USA, my adopted homeland. Assuming that for most reading this, it comes more naturally to focus on individual humans, let me characterize the USA as if it were a person. Let’s call her Merica. I first met Merica on March 10, 1968 as a recently arrived refugee from Cuba. For 53 years, I’ve loved, cherished, and idolized Merica’s benevolence. She took me into her home, accepting me unconditionally to her family. With the arrival of COVID19, however, I’ve had to acknowledge difficult truths about Merica I’ve unconsciously denied for over 50 years. These truths became more apparent as I watched Merica struggle with a horrific illness that revealed her fallibility. One such truth is Merica has lots of unresolved anger/hate that is eating her insides. And while Merica boasts about her values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, her behaviors suggest they apply solely to a privileged subset of society. My upbringing in the teachings of Christ calls upon me to demonstrate compassion for Merica, despite how badly she might treat me or others on occasion. One factor that helps me in that struggle is the realization that Merica is not mentally well. She is struggling to confront some egregious sins from her past. She is reconciling her myths with her realities. She is lost in a spiritual wilderness, having lost her bearing. She has compromised her faith by worshiping the false gods of power and material wealth. And unfortunately, Merica lives in a society that undervalues mental health awareness and services. She’s got a difficult road ahead of her. The great American thinker James Baldwin wrote, “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” I can’t think of a more apt characterization of my friend Merica. And so, COVID19 has changed how I see Merica. My relationship with her, although now more challenging, is deeper, more intimate, honest and candid, and challenges me to find in my heart a sincere prayer for her healing and recovery."

-Written by Sebastián R. Díaz, Ph.D., J.D.

To submit to COVID Diaries: 

  1. Go to The Pulse’s news page
  2. Click on the green button labeled “SUBMIT NEWS & ARTICLES.” 
  3. Complete the form. 

You’ll have the option of including a photo. Title your submission COVID Diaries: _, including a subtitle unique to your submission, for example, COVID Diaries: Baking My Way Through.

Written pieces should be 200-300 words. Submissions of visual art should be accompanied by an explanatory artist’s statement or personal reflection of 200-300 words that contextualizes the significance of the work.

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