Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law

ICON Editorial: COVID-19 and ICON

Gráinne de Búrca & J.H.H. Weiler, Co-Editors-in-Chief, International Journal of Constitutional Law

We are pulled in opposite directions in the face of a global upending of normal life. At one level it is reassuring, even if hunkered down at home, as is our editorial team in six different countries, to continue serenely with our normal work in the face of such abnormal times. The life of the mind, the scholarly endeavor continues – even when juggled with caring responsibilities – not least as an act of faith in better times to come. Unlike war – a metaphor which is widely used and abused – we are not faced by the actions of evil men and women against whom one should rise in indignant protest. Yes, incompetence and irresponsibility might have played a role, but one should not rush to throw the first stone. With time such issues can be and will be sorted out.

And yet, in the face of spreading death and imploding economic circumstances on a truly global scale, to continue as if nothing is happening would be unacceptable and would border on the callous. That grave consideration apart, there are obvious issues of public law for which I.CON should be a forum for serious reflection. Do we wait till the dust settles, the crisis is overcome and then turn with distance and perspective to serious and rigorous reflection and analysis?  In some respects, one does not have that luxury – there are issues happening in real time which will not wait for that perspectival reflection and on which we are all looking for ongoing insight and understanding.

It is our fortune at I.CON that we do not have to face that choice. ICONnect, our sister blog and website, has never been a locus of gossip or ‘from the hip’ commentary. It is a forum, as is proven week in and week out, for brief but incisive legal commentary, oftentimes of the indispensable doctrinal genre (legal or illegal) in which immediate reactions to the COVID-19 crisis have already appeared and will continue to appear. The deeper reflection, conceptual and theoretical, doctrinal and otherwise, will appear organically in I.CON as time passes and the community of scholars engage with this perspectival dimension to our work.

I.CON is a community – of readers and authors. We continue to connect with and support one another as part of that scholarly community through these difficult times.  Remember our collective and individual resilience, and know that we will eventually emerge on the other side.   In the meantime, Keep Safe!

We would like to end by publishing here, with the permission of the poetess, Lynn Ungar ( her evocative poem Pandemic. It speaks for itself.

Lynn Unger

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love—
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

GdeB  & JHHW


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