It was March 2020, and words like “lock down”, “six-feet” and “social distancing” were making their way into our daily language. What began as a recommendation quickly morphed into a requirement. Prior to this time, whenever I heard the word “lockdown”, I associated it with prison or detention. Pertaining the phrase “six-feet”, I always associated with death and burial; cos we are told, people are buried 6 feet underground. I never imagined that these two phrases associated with crime and death would apply to everyone (regardless of race, gender and ethnicity). In a strange twist of events, in order to live, it was expedient to endure some form of imprisonment and restriction.
Who would have imagined that this would ever be the fate of a postmodernist generation given all the technological advancement in the health field! I finally believed we were in crisis when stores run out of basic supplies such as toilet paper and paper towels. The correlation between the virus and the shortage of these specific items still baffles me. I will never look at toilet paper the same way (lol). Whenever I hear the phrase “six feet”, I still cringe. Like most people, initially I welcomed the much needed vacation. Surely, within a month or 2, we should back in business. If anyone had hinted then, that we would still be dealing with “Auntie Coro” at this time, I would not have believed it. Sometimes, I wonder what I would have done differently had I known it would take this long.
About Spring of 2019, I was teaching a Medical Anthropology course and we were discussing the topic of Health and Healing practices from around the world. We explored what other countries did to optimize their health and to treat their illnesses. In the process, we touched on the topic of Public Health. I mentioned how the Public Health of one country can be impacted by the overall Health metrics of another nation. Most of the students looked at me in disbelief. I proceeded to explain that since we now live in a globalized world and people can travel to many countries within a matter of days for business transactions, the possibility of cross infection is extremely high. It is therefore not a matter of if, but rather “when”.
Even I wasn’t prepared for Coronavirus. Certainly, I didn’t have that in mind when I made this statement in class. But sure enough, here we are and still counting.
Recently, I was reflecting on the many other things that have transpired since March of this year. The social unrest, the injustice, the lies, upheavals, political maneuverings, bankruptcies, wars in other parts of the world, deaths, floods, fires, helplessness, mental unwellness, fear, anxiety; and the list goes on. It feels like everything that could possibly go wrong has been cramped into this year; and we still have three more months to go. Sometimes, it feels as though we are back in the days of Egypt and Pharaoh, back to the plague season where there was one disaster after the next. The good news is that plagues don’t last forever . The salient question we must consider is “how would our world look like after the plague”? Because the worst pandemic that can happen to a generation is not Coronavirus, but rather how we view and regard each other.
Eventually, we will discover a vaccine or even a cure for Coronavirus; and that would be awesome. But how about hate, helplessness, injustice and division? These ailments have been with us longer than the virus. How do we plan to address that? Would we be part of the solution or part of the problem? For instance, if you are in the healthcare field, do you treat all patients the same? As a musician, do your lyrics bring hope or incite chaos? As a journalist, do you report the truth? As a politician, do you truly serve the interest of the people in your care? Do you enact policies that promote the well-being of everyone? Do you promote equity and justice? As an educator, do you bring out the best in every child? If you are a hiring manager, do you hire based on skill set or do you practice nepotism? As a preacher, do you speak God’s truth that liberates the soul or do you usurp your authority to extort and impose? And the list goes on.
There is no magic wand for change and healing. If there was, the fairy godmother of peace would have been summoned decades ago. It will take all of us playing our role (big or small) to rid ourselves of the biggest virus of all time. Truly, we can change the world. Truly, we don’t need to be at war with each other. Surely, we could all use a break from this “plague”. May God be gracious and merciful to us all.