Throughout history, there have been times when the survival of humanity has been threatened – by nature or by ourselves. From the Black Death which plagued Eurasia in the 1340s to the more recent Second World War, mankind has repeatedly been challenged by calamities.
With the havoc COVID-19 is currently wrecking worldwide, can we say that this the end of all things?
Similarities with the past
If you were to ask a senior citizen who survived World War II, he/she would point out many similarities between the early 1940s and today. A writer recently remarked that the main difference between then and now with regard to the current lockdown experienced in Europe is that, unlike during World War II, “Today, we are not being bombed.” Thankfully!
But the list of similarities are undeniable: closure of schools and job sites; postponement or cancellation of sporting events; increase in the number of treatment facilities, mobilization of the military, suspension of routine social, religious and economic activities – a virtual shutdown of every area of life.
That has been the situation during every major disaster the world has ever known.
“Smaller” disasters do exist
Calamities the world has witnessed haven’t only been on a large scale. Others have – on a smaller scale – devastated lives in one corner of the world or another.
Whether it’s the Korean War, the Gulf War, Africa wars for Independence, the outbreaks of SARS or EBOLA, or the global financial crisis, people around the world at some point in time have had to get through one facet or another of what’s currently unfolding. Just that often times, calamities which occur on a “small” scale are either ignored or overlooked because as another recently published article puts it, “we only ever get concerned if it impacts us personally.”
Why the outcry?
The impact COVID-19 has had in recent weeks could be attributed to a couple of reasons:
1. Most of the world’s current inhabitants – unlike the world itself – have never experienced a scourge in their lifetime.
And so, it appears like “this is the end.” But just do a little research, and soon you’ll realize that, as the Bible puts it, “. . . there is nothing new under the sun.”
2. Globalization and technological advancement brings everything or its effect to everyone’s doorsteps.
Unlike during past pandemic, today, there’s availability of commercial flights that could literally transport diseases from one continent to another in a matter of hours – not days or months – causing it to spread like wild fire; while media coverage and the internet deliver news and graphic images to our homes and in our palms every second of the day.
One thing one needs to realize is that the effect of a global calamity is always proportional to the state of advancement of the world at that moment.
The world as we know it today is in its most advanced state ever. Never before now have we known development and advancement of this importance. Such is the level of advancement, such is the impact of the pandemic.
Why do these things happen?
Two things come to my mind when I consider this question.
Firstly, this is Mother Nature’ s way of reminding us of our inadequacy. With all the sophistication and technological advancement, we remain but humans . . .
Secondly – and similarly – as some economists have suggested, this is Her way of putting a check on our actions and activities.
Though painful it may be, considering the massive loss of lives currently experienced in countries around the world, our present realities are occurrences which have somehow always been around.
“The World will no longer be the same”
In times like these, a common saying we read in the media and hear from prominent lips is “the world will no longer be the same”. When you hear or read that, you have the impression that there’s no hope after a disaster. It was a common expression after the September 11 incident. But did mankind stop flying after 2001? Not at all.
The point I want to make is, there is a negative connotation attached to those words. Saying “the world will never be the same” as it’s said in cases of devastation is simply an exaggeration of a common truth. As a matter of fact, the world never remains the same – no matter what.
What to do, then?
What I’ve learned to do in times like these – and which I think is worth it – is simply “to live on”. There’s a saying that “you can’t change the world, but you can change yourself.” Another one goes: “what will be, will be.”
So, instead of worrying over things beyond your control, simply live on: have faith, and do not neglect your duties and responsibilities. Protect yourself from exposure to the Virus: stay safe and stay at home. ;Live on to fight another day. That’s your role in all of this.
We will overcome!
In the few years I’ve inhabited the face of the earth – and from accounts of those who existed before me – I’ve seen that things come up for a while and then they go. Circumstances are not eternal. They are but for a designated period. COVID-19 is no exception. It’s here for a season. And I can assure you that, sooner or later, it’s going to pack up and leave.
Life as you’ve known it will go on. Things will return to normal. Though there will be losses, hope will be restored.
In spite of all we are going through today, humanity will overcome – and thrive – like on every other occasion before COVID-19.
As J. S. Mill remarked:
“What has so often excited wonder [is] the great rapidity with which countries recover from a state of devastation in a short time . . .”
This too shall pass!
Considering the above, there’s no need to panic or predict doom. History has shown that all these things have happened before, and others are yet to come.
COVID-19, which has of recent become the single greatest topic being discussed worldwide, is just the next on the list of major global scourges. But like all others before it, it’s bound to take its exit in order for life to go on.
Indeed, this too shall pass!