Jordan's numbers of new infections started increasing dramatically about 3 weeks ago. We are currently averaging around 200 new cases per day. The Government decided to close schools, sending students home to use the Internet for distant learning. Restaurants and cafes are also closed. Government departments are functioning with minimal staff. Companies continue to operate. Friday curfews are gone.

Looking at what is happening in the rest of the world - lockdowns and curfews on the rise again, the second wave of the virus almost with us, expected delays in vaccine distribution well into next year - and the ability of this virus to mutate, it seems this new-normal is here to stay for many years to come.

I continue to be amazed at the intensity of feelings around the use of protective measures - social distancing, washing hands, and wearing masks.

With few exceptions, societies worldwide seem to be divided between those who practice these measures, and those who don't. Those who trust (their governments, the experts), and those who don't. Those who have the frame of reference to understand what a pandemic is, and those who don't. Those who leave their fate to the stars, the throw of the cosmic dice, god, what is destined to be, and those who practice safe living.

It is not easy for an individual (or for society, for that matter) to construct a frame of reference that enables one to deal with reality in productive, viable, safe, and rational ways. In Africa, they say "it takes a village." It is the collective interplay of the components of the systems we inhabit that bestow on us, distill in us, our frames of reference - a general frame of reference that we share with others, and an individual frame of reference that is our own.

Do our education systems challenge us to learn, or encourage us to dumb-down? Do our political systems catalyze our sense of civic spirit and belief in a set of common goods, or encourage selfishness and disengagement? Do our religions emphasize the value of being "good" in everyday life, or do they emphasize adherence to rituals for their own sake? Do our economic systems impart us with a sense of justice and fairness, or do they operate with a paradigm of live and let die?

And our languages ... do they inhibit our thinking and intellectual progress, or do they propel these forth?

I have written previously in these Diaries about Wittgenstein and his theory of language. We tend to underestimate the power and impact our languages have on the development and shape of our frames of reference - on our abilities, as individuals and societies, to deconstruct our frames of reference and reconstruct them to deal with and manage constantly changing realities.

I was recently reminded of the important function of language while listening to music - highly advisable in these pandemic times.

I ran across the National Arab Orchestra, which I've never heard of before. The Orchestra performs the music and song of the years of the recent Arab enlightenment, which sadly did not last long. This was the period after the fall and disintegration of the Ottoman Empire into its constituent national units, and after the Arab nation and peoples attained independence from western colonial powers. It was a period of freedom of the intellect, of the heart and spirit, of art and music - tinged with the hopes and dreams of pluralism and democracy.

It was not meant to be. The politics of the Cold War, oil, and religious conservatism took hold of the region, pulling it back and down. One casualty was Arabic language. Arabs lost control of their language and this loss and subsequent neglect meant that Arabic no longer supported, but impeded, the intellectual and spiritual progress of Arabs.

The link below is for a recent performance by the National Arab Orchestra of a song by Umm Kulthum, a doyen of Arab music and song from the 1960s and 1970s.

It does not take a musicologist to realize that the music of those days far surpass what is currently produced in the Arab World. A song has two main components: language and music. If a language suppresses the heart and spirit, then the resulting music will reflect this. That was not the case in Umm Kulthum's days and Arab music soared.

To regurgitate means to re-consume something that one has already ingested. I hope that by re-playing the music of the days of enlightenment, Arabs will find nourishment for the next mile to cross.